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Fruitvale Station

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This article is about the movie.  For the BART station, see Fruitvale (BART station).
Fruitvale Station
Fruitvale Station poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Produced by Nina Yang Bongiovi Forest Whitaker
Written by Ryan Coogler
Starring Michael B. Jordan Melonie Diaz Octavia Spencer
Music by Ludwig Göransson
Cinematography Rachel Morrison
Editing by Claudia Castello Michael P. Shawver
Studio Significant Productions OG Project
Distributed by The Weinstein Company
Release dates
  • January 19, 2013 (2013-01-19) (Sundance)
  • July 12, 2013 (2013-07-12) (United States)
Running time 85 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $16,967,457[1]

Fruitvale Station, previously known as Fruitvale,[2] is a 2013 American drama film written and directed by Ryan Coogler. It is Coogler’s first feature-length film and is based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Station in Oakland, California.

The film stars Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant. Forest Whitaker is one of the film’s producers.[3] Kevin Durand and Chad Michael Murray play the two BART police officers involved in Grant’s death. The names of the officers were changed for the film.[4]

Fruitvale Station debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film.[3] It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where it won the award for Best First Film. The film was released in theaters July 12, 2013.[5] It received critical acclaim upon its release and earned other awards.


[icon] This section requires expansion. (January 2014)

The film tells the story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old from Hayward, California and his experiences on the last day of his life, before he was fatally shot by BART Police in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009.




Ryan Coogler was a graduate student at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts when Grant was shot on January 1, 2009. Following this event, Coogler expressed his desire to make a film about Grant’s last day, “I wanted the audience to get to know this guy, to get attached, so that when the situation that happens to him happens, it’s not just like you read it in the paper, you know what I mean? When you know somebody as a human being, you know that life means something.” He was able to meet John Burris, the attorney for the Grant family, through a mutual friend and worked closely with him to get information on the case. He also worked closely with the Grant family, after gaining their trust.[6]

In January 2011, Forest Whitaker‘s production company was looking for new young filmmakers to mentor. Coogler met Head of Production, Nina Yang Bongiovi, and showed her his projects. Shortly after, he had a meeting with Whitaker, who decided to support Fruitvale.[7][8] Coogler met with advisers of Sundance Screenwriters Lab. He developed the script with the help of Creative Advisors Tyger Williams, Jessie Nelson and Zach Sklar.[9] The film received funding from the Feature Film Program (FFP)[9] and the San Francisco Film Society.[7]

Coogler had Michael B. Jordan in mind to play the role of Oscar before writing the script.[8] In April 2012, Jordan and Octavia Spencer joined the cast.[10] Spencer also received a co-executive producer credit as she directly participated in funding the film and contacted investors when a deal was lost during the filming.[11] Notably, investors included Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, a bestselling novel adapted as a successful movie.[12] In April 2012, Hannah Beachler signed on to serve as the film’s production designer.[13]


Fruitvale Station was filmed in Oakland, California,[6] in 20 days in July 2012.[14] Scenes were shot at and around the Bay Area Rapid Transit platform where Grant was killed.[15] The BART agreed to let the crew film at the Fruitvale BART station for three four-hour nights. Most of the platform scenes were shot over the course of two nights (with another night dedicated to the sequences on the train that led up to the police confrontation).[16] San Quentin State Prison served as a filming location for a flashback scene with prisoners featured as extras.[17] The film was shot in Super 16 mm format using Arriflex 416 cameras and Zeiss Ultra 16 lenses.[18]

The film includes actual amateur footage of the shooting. Coogler explained the decision: “That was something that I was initially very firmly against. I didn’t want any real footage in the film. But you sometimes have to take a step back. Being from the Bay Area, I knew that footage like the back of my hand, but more people from around the world had no idea about this story. It made sense for them to see that footage and see what happened to Oscar, and I think it was a responsibility that we had to put that out there.”[16]


The musical score to Fruitvale Station was composed by Ludwig Göransson.[19] Also a USC graduate, Göransson said of the scoring process: “Ryan and I talked a lot about how sound design was going to have a huge role in the movie and very early on I got sent the actual sound recordings of the Bart Train. I manipulated the train sound and made it almost feel like a dark ambient synth sound and I used it almost throughout the whole Bart platform scene. The other element in the score is lots of layered and manipulated guitars sounding almost like haunting pads.” Coogler added: “One thing that we always wanted to be conscious of with the score, was to make sure that it always felt organic. A lot of the film would play without score, so Ludwig made sure that whenever we brought score in came out of sounds in the environment.”[20] A soundtrack album, Fruitvale Station – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, was be released digitally on September 24, 2013 and on CD October 15, 2013 through Lakeshore Records.[20]

Track listing[21]
No. Title Artist Length
1. “Mob Shit” The Jacka, Cellski & Peezy 4:40
2. “Rubber Band” Mar Keyes, William Peoples & Noah Coogler 4:04
3. “Won’t Be Right” The Jacka & Cellski 4:13
4. “Hey Little Mama” Mistah F.A.B, Johnny Ca$h & The Jacka 3:56
5. “Intelligent” Mar Keyes, William Peoples & Phillip Henderson 3:25
6. “Tatiana” Ludwig Göransson 1:13
7. “Emi” Ludwig Göransson 0:47
8. “The Dog” Ludwig Göransson 1:18
9. “Prison” Ludwig Göransson 1:00
10. “Picking Up T” Ludwig Göransson 0:44
11. “Undefeated” Ludwig Göransson 0:26
12. “Love and Oprah” Ludwig Göransson 0:36
13. “Dinner Tim” Ludwig Göransson 1:38
14. “Tatiana and Firecrackers” Ludwig Göransson 1:13
15. “Gumbo” Ludwig Göransson 0:46
16. “Bart Station” Ludwig Göransson 5:00
17. “Who’s That For?” Ludwig Göransson 2:30
18. “End Titles” Ludwig Göransson 6:47
19. “Fruitvale Suite” Ludwig Göransson 7:53
Total length:


The Weinstein Co. commissioned three murals to be painted in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco by well-known street artists Ron English, Lydia Emily and LNY, in anticipation of the film.[22]

Some people questioned having a poster for the film in Fruitvale Station, but a BART spokeswoman said about this decision:

“there was no debate whether to allow Fruitvale Station [advertisements] on BART. None whatsoever. We really support Ryan. He’s just an amazing person. . . . I think that Ryan had said it was his intention to show his love for Oakland and the people of Oakland, and he really succeeded.”[23]

Promotional material used on the film’s Facebook page and website referred to the controversial shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida, which was in the news at the same time as the film’s release.[24] This drew some criticism, with publicist Angie Meyer stating, “It’s absolutely inappropriate and morally wrong to use a high profile case to create publicity and buzz around a movie release.”[25]

As part of its film promotion, the Weinstein Co. set up the “I am __” campaign to encourage people to share stories of overcoming acts of social injustice or mistreatment, and to upload photos or other artworks related to those experiences.[26]


Fruitvale Station premiered on January 19, 2013 during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival where it was listed as Fruitvale before undergoing a title change.[2] After premiering at Sundance, the film was at the center of a distribution bidding war. Rights for the film were ultimately acquired by The Weinstein Company for approximately US$2 million.[27] In May 2013, Fruitvale Station appeared in the Un Certain Regard, an award section recognizing unique and innovative films, at the 66th Cannes Film Festival[28] and won the award for Best First Film.[29]

The Oakland premiere was held as a private screening at Grand Lake Theater on June 20, 2013.[30] The film opened in select theaters on July 12.[31] This opening took place about the same time as the Florida jury decided the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for shooting Trayvon Martin.[26][32]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed an estimated $127,445 on its first night[33] and ended its first weekend of limited release with $377,285 from 7 theaters for a $53,898 per-theater-average.[34] It is the third highest opening of the year for a film in limited release (behind Spring Breakers and The Place Beyond the Pines)[35] and it is also one of the best openings for a Sundance festival top prize winner.[36] A week after its debut, Fruitvale Station expanded to 35 theaters and garnered $742,272 for $21,832 per-screen average.[37] The film opened nationwide on July 26 in more than 1000 locations.[38][39] It ranked #10 at the box office, earning $4.59 million.[40] The film has grossed $16,101,339 in the United States and $866,118 elsewhere, for a worldwide total of $16,967,457.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Fruitvale Station has received widespread critical acclaim. The film holds a 94% approval rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 8.2/10, based on 157 reviews. The site’s critical consensus reads: “Passionate and powerfully acted, Fruitvale Station serves as a celebration of life, a condemnation of death, and a triumph for star Michael B. Jordan.”[41] On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 85, based on 43 reviews, indicating “universal acclaim”.[42] CinemaScore reported that audiences gave an “A” average grade.[43] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter called it “a compelling debut” and “a powerful dramatic feature film”. He also praised the lead performances stating, “As Oscar, Jordan at moments gives off vibes of a very young Denzel Washington in the way he combines gentleness and toughness; he effortlessly draws the viewer in toward him. Diaz is vibrant as his patient and loyal girlfriend, while Spencer brings her gravitas to the proceedings as his stalwart mother.”[44]

Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has praised the film as the “best film” of Sundance Film Festival 2013.[45]

In writing for The Village Voice, chief film critic Stephanie Zacharek called it “a restrained but forceful picture that captures some of the texture and detail of one human life” and praised first-time director Ryan Coogler, writing that he “dramatizes Oscar’s last day by choosing not to dramatize it: The events unfold casually, without any particular scheme. And yet because we know how this story will end, there’s a shivery, understated tension running beneath.”[46]

In his Sundance festival wrap up, critic Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said of Fruitvale Station, “Made with assurance and quiet emotion, this unexpectedly devastating drama based on the real life 2009 shooting of an unarmed young black man at an Oakland Fruitvale Station of BART (San Francisco Bay Area Transit Fruitvale Station) impressed everyone as the work of an exceptional filmmaker.” [47]

In a more mixed review, Geoff Berkshire of Variety called it “a well-intentioned attempt to put a human face on the tragic headlines surrounding Oscar Grant.” Though he praised Michael B. Jordan’s performance, he critiqued the “relentlessly positive portrayal” of the film’s subject: “Best viewed as an ode to victim’s rights, Fruitvale forgoes nuanced drama for heart-tugging, head-shaking and rabble-rousing.”[4]

In his negative New York Post review and subsequent Fact checker article in Forbes, Kyle Smith concluded that Coogler omits key information, while fabricating other scenes, in order to manipulate viewers into a distorted impression of what happened.[48][49]

The film appeared on several critics’ top ten lists of the best films of 2013:[50]


Ryan Coogler accepts the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic with the crew at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients and nominees Result
AACTA Awards[51] January 10, 2014 Best International Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer Nominated
African-American Film Critics Association[52] December 13, 2013 Best Independent Film Fruitvale Station Won
American Film Institute[53] January 10, 2014 Top Ten Films of the Year Fruitvale Station Won
Austin Film Critics Association[54] December 17, 2013 Best First Film Ryan Coogler Won
Black Reel Awards[55] February 13, 2014 Outstanding Motion Picture Fruitvale Station / Nina Yang Bonogivoi and Forest Whitaker Pending
Outstanding Actor Michael B. Jordan Pending
Outstanding Supporting Actress Melonie Diaz Pending
Octavia Spencer Pending
Outstanding Director Ryan Coogler Pending
Outstanding Screenplay (Original or Adapted) Ryan Coogler Pending
Outstanding Ensemble The cast of Fruitvale Station Pending
Outstanding Score Ludwig Göransson Pending
Outstanding Breakthrough Actress Performance Melonie Diaz Pending
Boston Online Film Critics Association[56] December 8, 2013 Best New Filmmaker Ryan Coogler Won
Cannes Film Festival May 25, 2013 Prix de l’Avenir d’Un Certain Regard Ryan Coogler Won
Grand Prix d’Un Certain Regard Ryan Coogler Nominated
Camera d’Or Ryan Coogler Nominated
Carmel Art and Film Festival[57] October 12, 2013 Breakout Actress of 2013 Melonie Diaz Won
Central Ohio Film Critics[58] January 2, 2014 Best Actor Michael B. Jordan Nominated
Breakthrough Film Artist Ryan Coogler Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association[59] December 16, 2013 Most Promising Filmmaker Ryan Coogler Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association[60] December 6, 2013 Russell Smith Award Fruitvale Station Won
Deauville American Film Festival[61] September 2013 Prix du Jury Révélation Cartier Fruitvale Station Won
Prix du Public Fruitvale Station Won
Denver Film Critics Society[62] January 13, 2014 Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society[63] December 13, 2013 Best Breakthrough Ryan Coogler Nominated
Michael B. Jordan Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle[64] December 18, 2013 Pauline Kael Breakout Award Michael B. Jordan Runner-up
Gotham Awards[65][66] December 2, 2013 Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award Ryan Coogler Won
Breakthrough Actor Michael B. Jordan Won
Audience Award Fruitvale Station Nominated
Hollywood Film Festival[67] 18–20 October 2013 Hollywood Spotlight Award Michael B. Jordan Won
Houston Film Critics Society[68] December 15, 2013 Best Picture Fruitvale Station Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer Nominated
Humanitas Prize[69] September 20, 2013 Sundance Feature Film Category Fruitvale Station Won
Independent Spirit Awards[70] March 1, 2014 Best First Feature Fruitvale Station / Ryan Coogler Pending
Best Male Lead Michael B. Jordan Pending
Best Supporting Female Melonie Diaz Pending
Indiana Film Critics Association[71] December 16, 2013 Best Picture Fruitvale Station Nominated
Best Actor Michael B. Jordan Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer Nominated
Las Vegas Film Critics Society[72] December 18, 2013 Breakout Filmmaker of the Year Ryan Coogler Won
NAACP Image Awards[73] February 22, 2014 Outstanding Motion Picture Fruitvale Station Pending
Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Michael B. Jordan Pending
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Octavia Spencer Pending
Outstanding Independent Motion Picture Fruitvale Station Pending
Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture – (Theatrical or Television) Ryan Coogler Pending
Nantucket Film Festival[74] July 1, 2013 Vimeo Award for Best Writer/Director Ryan Coogler Won
National Board of Review[75] December 4, 2013 Top Ten Films Fruitvale Station Won
Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer Won
Breakthrough Actor Michael B. Jordan Won
Best Directorial Debut Ryan Coogler Won
New York Film Critics Circle[76] December 3, 2013 Best First Film Fruitvale Station Won
New York Film Critics Online[77] December 8, 2013 Best Debut Director Ryan Coogler Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society[78] December 17, 2013 Breakthrough Performance on Camera Michael B. Jordan Nominated
Breakthrough Performance Behind the Camera Ryan Coogler Nominated
Producers Guild of America[79] January 19, 2014 Stanley Kramer Award Fruitvale Station Won
San Francisco Film Critics Circle[80][81] December 15, 2013 Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer Nominated
Marlon Riggs Award Ryan Coogler Won
Santa Barbara International Film Festival[82] February 4, 2014 Virtuoso Award Michael B. Jordan Won
Satellite Awards[83] March 9, 2014 Breakthrough Award Performance Michael B. Jordan Won
Honorary Satellite Award Ryan Coogler Won
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association[84] December 16, 2013 Best Actor Michael B. Jordan Nominated
Stockholm International Film Festival[85] November 15, 2013 Best First Film Fruitvale Station Won
Sundance Film Festival January 26, 2013 Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic Ryan Coogler Won
Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Dramatic Ryan Coogler Won
Traverse City Film Festival[86] August 4, 2013 Audience Award – Best American Film Fruitvale Station Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association[87] December 9, 2013 Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer Nominated
Women Film Critics Circle[88] December 17, 2013 Best Actor Michael B. Jordan Runner-up
Zurich Film Festival[89][90] October 6, 2013 Best International Feature Film Fruitvale Station Nominated
Best Actor – Special Mention Michael B. Jordan Won

Home media[edit]

Fruitvale Station was available in Digital HD via Anchor Bay on December 31, 2013.[91] DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases are scheduled for January 14, 2014.[92]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jump up to: a b “Fruitvale Station (2013)”. Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. July 12, 2013. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
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  3. ^ Jump up to: a b Makinen, Julie (January 26, 2013). “Sundance 2013: ‘Fruitvale’ wins Grand Jury Prize”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  4. ^ Jump up to: a b Berkshire, Geoff (January 20, 2013). “Fruitvale”. Variety. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  5. Jump up ^ “Fruitvale Station Trailer, News, Videos, and Reviews”. ComingSoon.net. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  6. ^ Jump up to: a b Rhodes, Joe (June 28, 2013). “A Bay Area killing inspires Fruitvale Station”. The New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  7. ^ Jump up to: a b Alloway, Meredith (July 9, 2013). “Fruitvale Station: Interview Ryan Coogler”. The Script Lab. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  8. ^ Jump up to: a b “Fruitvale Station – Production Notes”. twcpublicity.com. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
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  10. Jump up ^ Kit, Borys (April 17, 2012). “Oscar Winner Octavia Spencer to Star in Movie About Controversial Police Killing (Exclusive)”. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
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  76. Jump up ^ Morgan, David (December 3, 2013). “”American Hustle” named best of 2013 by N.Y. film critics”. CBS News. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  77. Jump up ^ Thompson, Anne; Lattanzio, Ryan (December 8, 2013). “Los Angeles, Boston, New York Film Critics Online and British Independent Film Awards Wins (UPDATED)”. IndieWire. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  78. Jump up ^ Adams, Ryan (December 10, 2013). “Phoenix Film Critics Society nominations”. AwardsDaily. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  79. Jump up ^ Hayden, Eric (December 13, 2013). “‘Fruitvale Station’ to Receive Producers Guild’s Stanley Kramer Award”. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  80. Jump up ^ Stone, Sasha (December 13, 2013). “San Francisco Film Critics Nominations”. Awards Daily. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  81. Jump up ^ Hartlaub, Peter (December 15, 2013). ““12 Years,” “Gravity” dominate San Francisco critics awards”. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  82. Jump up ^ Pond, Steve (December 8, 2013). “Oscar Isaac, Michael B. Jordan and Brie Larson Among Santa Barbara Fest’s New Honorees”. The Wrap. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
  83. Jump up ^ Kilday, Gregg (December 2, 2013). “Satellite Awards: ’12 Years a Slave’ Leads Film Nominees”. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  84. Jump up ^ Venhaus, Lynn (December 9, 2013). “St. Louis Film Critics choose their award nominees”. Belleville News-Democrat. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  85. Jump up ^ Keslassy, Elsa (November 15, 2013). “‘The Selfish Giant’ Wins Best Film at Stockholm Fest”. Variety. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  86. Jump up ^ Hinds, Julie (August 5, 2013). “‘Fruitvale Station,’ ‘Propaganda’ win big at Traverse City Film Festival”. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  87. Jump up ^ Tapley, Kristopher (December 8, 2013). “’12 Years a Slave’ and ‘Her’ lead the way with Washington D.C. critics nominations”. HitFix. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  88. Jump up ^ Tapley, Kristopher (December 17, 2013). “2013 Women Film Critics Circle winners”. HitFix. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  89. Jump up ^ De Coster, Ramzi (September 12, 2013). “Zurich Film Festival Unveils Official 2013 Lineup”. IndieWire. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  90. Jump up ^ Roxborough, Scott (October 6, 2013). “Zurich Fest: Diego Quemada-Diez’s ‘La Jaula De Oro’ Wins Best Film”. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  91. Jump up ^ McNary, Dave (December 4, 2013). “‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ Returns to Theaters; ‘Fruitvale Station’ Gets Early Digital Release”. Variety. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  92. Jump up ^ Obenson, Tambay A. (November 20, 2013). “TWC Announces 1/14 DVD, Blu-Ray Combo Pack & VOD Release Of ‘Fruitvale Station’ (Details)”. IndieWire. Retrieved November 21, 2013.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Beasts of the Southern Wild Sundance Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic 2013 Succeeded by Whiplash
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