As attorneys make final arguments in the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin battle over racial profiling and lethal force, the subject matter of a new major motion picture—as well as the timing of its release—is drawing attention.
Based on a true story, “Fruitvale Station” deals with the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, 22, who was fatally shot by a guard after an altercation on a BART train in Oakland, Calif., on New Year’s Day, 2009, The Wrap reports.
The film hits theaters this Friday, July 12—tellingly close to the when the trial of Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman charged with murdering Martin, is expected to conclude.
There’s no shortage of commentary from the film’s director, Ryan Coogler, who’s said that the Trayvon Martin case is playing out while this film hits theaters underscores the need for more stories like this.
“People who look like Oscar, who look like Trayvon, are dying every day on the streets of our country – not only being shot by a police officer or not only being shot by somebody using vigilante tactics, but oftentimes being shot by someone that looks just like them,” he said. “These lives matter, and we shouldn’t just stand by while this is happening.”
Coogler “makes the connection explicit,” The Wrap notes, between “Fruitvale Station” and Trayvon Martin’s killing in this production photo:
It’s worth noting that the outfit releasing “Fruitvale Station” is none other than The Weinstein Co.
You may recall that it was Harvey Weinstein—a major Barack Obama donor—who was behind “Seal Team 6: The Raid on Osama bin Laden” that aired on the National Geographic Channel just two days before the 2012 presidential election.
The New York Times reports that “Seal Team 6” was re-cut to feature news and documentary clips that bolster Obama’s presence throughout the film.
However, the release date for “Fruitvale Station” was set “after the Weinstein Co. acquired the film at Sundance, and long before trial dates were set for Zimmerman,” The Wrap reports.
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The transit officer who shot Grant was convicted of involuntary manslaughter rather than second-degree murder, setting off riots in the Bay Area; the Zimmerman verdict, which could be in the hands of the jury by the end of this week, has the potential to inflame communities as well.
Coogler himself has made the connection in interviews he’s done in conjunction with his film, which won both audience and jury awards at the Sundance Film Festival.
“Trayvon should still be here,” he told BlackTree TV. “Oscar should still be here. Thousands of African-American and Latino men are losing their lives on the streets, be it from black-on-black crime, brown-on-black crime, brown-on-brown crime … or officer involved shootings … where they get shot by people who are supposed to be protecting them … It shouldn’t be that way.”
Martin had not been killed when Coogler wrote the script for “Fruitvale Station,” but his death grabbed national headlines just before “Fruitvale” went into production in Oakland with a cast that included Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer and Melonie Diaz.
“It happened right before I read the script, which made me stop and go, ‘Wow, this is so relevant,'” Jordan told CNBC.
Added Diaz, “We thought, ‘My God, this is so topical. We have even more of a reason to make this movie because it happens too often.'”
Here’s the official trailer for “Fruitvale Station”:
Here’s Grant’s uncle in Sanford, Fla., for the first day of the George Zimmerman trial; he compares his nephew’s case with Martin’s:
And footage of the Grant shooting (viewer discretion advised):
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
(H/T: The Wrap)