OAKLAND (CBS SF) — After earning top marks at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, the film “Fruitvale Station,” which depicts the last day of Oscar Grant III’s life before he was fatally shot by a BART police officer, will be screened for the first time in the Bay Area on Thursday.
The film, directed by Bay Area native Ryan Coogler and featuring actors Octavia Spencer and Michael B. Jordan, will be shown in a private screening at Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater on Thursday evening.
The movie opens nationwide in on July 12.
It delves into the 24 hours preceding 22-year-old Grant’s death at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009. The Hayward resident, who was unarmed, was shot in the back by BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle.
Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a 2010 trial. He was sentenced to two years in prison with credit for time served, and was released in early 2011.
During the trial, Mehserle testified that he meant to use his Taser but accidentally fired his service weapon instead.
The killing prompted widespread outrage in the Bay Area.
Several lead actors from the film, the director and other filmmakers—including actor, producer and director Forest Whitaker—will attend the special screening.
The private screening is being presented by the San Francisco Film Society and the Oscar Grant Foundation in conjunction with the Weinstein Company, which bought the film after the Sundance festival.
Cephus Johnson, Grant’s uncle who heads the foundation, posted on Facebook about the Oakland premiere last week after returning from the opening days of the George Zimmerman trial in Florida.
Zimmerman, now 29, shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, has been charged with second-degree murder for the death of Martin in a case that has sparked an outcry similar to that seen after Grant’s death. Martin was black and was also unarmed at the time he was shot.
Johnson noted on Facebook that he noticed less community involvement and support in Florida for Trayvon Martin and his family compared to the Bay Area response to the Fruitvale shooting.
The lack of protest in Florida “really hit me hard in my soul,” he posted. “It was the community that made history here in Oscar Grant case.”
Johnson posted last Thursday that the premiere was originally going to take place in San Francisco but that a conversation developed and “the Bay Area showed there 1/8sic 3/8 interest and love for a premiere in Oakland, Oakland was the place for the premiere to happen.”
An after-party for the actors, filmmakers and invited guests is scheduled at Oakland barbecue joint Everett and Jones.
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)