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Oakland Filmmaker’s Oscar Grant Film Picked Up by Weinstein Co.

| January 22, 2013
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The Weinstein Co. has purchased rights to a feature film about the death of Oscar Grant, according to the Los Angeles Times:

In a deal for about $2 million, the Weinstein Co. has acquired rights to the drama “Fruitvale,” shown at the Sundance Film Festival, according to a person close to the film who was not authorized to speak on the record.

Oakland filmmaker Ryan Coogler, 26, drew on his own experiences growing up in Oakland to write “Fruitvale,” about the day Grant was shot by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, Jan. 1, 2009.

In this video, Coogler recalls hearing about the shooting:

Mehserle was convicted of manslaughter in the killing, which drew sometimes violent protests.

As News Fix reported in July, Coogler made the film with the participation of Grant’s family, and shot scenes at BART.

The film follows Grant as he strives to establish himself after leaving San Quentin, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which gave the movie a positive review. The review says the film doesn’t give the reason for Grant’s incarceration. (According to a San Francisco Chronicle report, “Grant was sentenced to 16 months in state prison in 2007 after he fled from a traffic stop while armed with a loaded pistol.”

Michael B. Jordan (“The Wire,” “Friday Night Lights”) plays Grant in the film and Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) plays his mother.

Filmmaker describes how Coogler got inspired to write screenplays while attending Saint Mary’s College in Moraga on an athletic scholarship.

Ryan Coogler remembers the first moment it occurred to him to become a film director. Having grown up in Oakland, Coogler was on a football scholarship to Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., where he had to take a creative writing class. The assignment was to write about a personal experience, and Coogler wrote about the time his father almost bled to death in his arms. He handed it in, and the professor called him into her office. What did Coogler want to do with his life? “Play ball, become a doctor and be a positive influence in my community,” he replied. He remembers her saying, “I think you should become a screenwriter. You can reach more people.”

Coogler attended a screenwriting seminar at Sundance, and Forest Whitaker signed on as co-producer of the film.

Coogler’s short film, “Fig” debuts on HBO Feb. 19.

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Category: Arts and Entertainment, Law

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