LAFF Screens 'Fruitvale Station' for Annual Gala

8:18 PM PST 06/18/2013 by Benjamin Lindsay
Fabrizio Maltese

Producer Forest Whitaker and star Octavia Spencer hit the carpet for Ryan Coogler's acclaimed drama.

Stars lined up Monday for the 19th annual Los Angeles Film Festival’s red carpet gala screening of Fruitvale Station, the acclaimed film from up-and-coming writer/director Ryan Coogler.

The screening attracted Hollywood heavyweights such as Forest Whitaker, one of the film’s producers, and star Octavia Spencer, as well as the cast’s friends and family and festival attendees. With a slew of awards and critical acclaim under its belt, Fruitvale Station has many in Hollywood talking.

SUNDANCE REVIEW: Fruitvale Station

“It’s resonated with so many people because they take a look at themselves after they see it,” producer Nina Yang Bongiovi tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s really to take a look at ourselves and to not be discriminatory. We’re all human beings.”

Coogler’s film depicts the true story of Oscar Grant, a troubled 22-year-old Bay Area resident who was shot in the back and killed by BART police on New Years Day, 2009. Opening on the early morning hours of December 31, 2008, Fruitvale Station is Coogler’s fly-on-the-wall recreation of Grant’s efforts to turn a new leaf on that fateful holiday. Grant’s killing sparked a national outcry over social and racial injustices plaguing the United States, and the event’s reverberations are still felt throughout the Bay Area.

VIDEO: ‘Fruitvale Station' Trailer: Tragic Confusion on Oakland Mass Transit

The film stars Michael B. Jordan (The Wire, Chronicle) as Grant, Spencer (The Help) as his mother, Wanda, and Melonie Diaz as Sophina, Grant’s girlfriend and the mother of his child. It was produced by Whitaker of Significant Productions and Bongiovi.

The Los Angeles Film Festival is hardly the first time Fruitvale Station hit the red carpet. The micro-budget indie has screened internationally, most notably at the Cannes Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival, where it took home the coveted grand jury prize and the audience wward for a dramatic narrative.

Fruitvale Station is presented by The Weinstein Company and opens in select theaters July 26, 2013.

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