Friday, July 26, 2013

Talk about FRUITVALE STATION: A Moderated Discussion and Take-home Topics

By Devin Wachs, Communications Manager, BMFI

We are thrilled to present the powerful new film Fruitvale Station starting today at BMFI. The drama features a break-out performance from Michael B. Jordan (The Wire) as Oscar Grant, who was shot and killed by a transit cop in the wee hours of New Year's Day 2009. Written and directed by debut filmmaker Ryan Coogler, this heart-wrenching dramatization of Oscar's final day won awards at Sundance and Cannes and co-stars Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer as Oscar's mother.

Michael Coard, a criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia with twenty years of state and federal trial experience, will moderate a discussion about Fruitvale Station and the issues it raises after the 7:00 pm show this Monday, July 29. You can download a flier with more information about this special screening and buy tickets here.

Below you'll find some questions for self-guided discussion; printed copies are also available in our lobby.

Suggested Questions for Self-guided Discussion
  1. The film’s outcome is a given and the story is told in flashback. Did the “spoiler” at the beginning spoil anything for you as a viewer? Does knowing the outcome make the details in the dramatization seem more meaningful or poignant?
  2. What impact did including the real cell phone footage captured by bystanders at the scene have for you as a viewer?
  3. How does the film put you into the characters’ shoes? What methods did the filmmaker use that promoted your understanding of their situation?
  4. What effect does the flashback to prison in the film have on you as a viewer? What role does it play in giving you a better sense of Oscar Grant?
  5. What did you think of the inclusion of the dog scene?
  6. How does the use of the hand-held camera change your relationship to the characters and the story being told?
  7. This is an emotional film. What aspects of it most touched you? What filmmaking techniques did the filmmakers use to heighten your emotional response?
  8. What is your biggest takeaway from the film?
  9. When Oscar Grant was killed on New Year’s Day 2009, it shocked the world and made headlines. How does your remembrance of the news coverage of the event impact your understanding of the film, and vice versa?
  10. How does the film’s character-oriented narrative approach impact your understanding of the issues Oscar Grant’s murder raises?
  11. Would you consider Fruitvale Station a political film? How does the film contribute to your understanding of race relations in America?
If you've seen the film, what discussion questions would you add? Tell us in the comments below.

Devin Wachs is the Communications Manager at Bryn Mawr Film Institute. She joined BMFI in 2005, following her graduation from Bryn Mawr College. If you send BMFI a message on Facebook or Twitter or are interested in onscreen sponsorships, she's the one who will be in touch!

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