Fruitvale Station Director Ryan Coogler On Trayvon Martin's PotentialS

The important, acclaimed and already-Oscar-buzzy film Fruitvale Station opened yesterday with eerily on-point timing: The film is based on the true story of a 22-year-old black Oakland man named Oscar Grant III (played by Michael B. Jordan) who was shot in the back by a white Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer. It won the Grand Jury prize as well as the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at the Sundance film festival.

Director Ryan Coogler gave a Q&A at Lincoln Center's Summer Talks Series on Thursday and spoke about the noted similarities between the Grant case in his film and the Zimmerman trial, via the New York Post:

“It affects you and depresses you and saddens you, because I think you know Trayvon had love in his life and potential. There are millions of Americans that don’t see Trayvon’s potential. They look at him and see him as a thug who got what he deserved. You know he was a 17-year-old boy that couldn’t even vote yet, had never been arrested, never had a criminal record. My question is, why do people look at him and see that? We look at him and see something else. We look at him and see us."

Coogler's goal for the film is to provoke viewers to ask: "What is the value of human life?” He told the Atlantic Wire that his intention was to humanize Grant in an attempt to reverse this perception:

"Media representations of young African American males are often one sided and very narrow to the point that they are dehumanizing, to the point that their lives don't have the same value that other lives have, to the point that people are okay with them dying young... What I felt was lost was the fact that this guy was a normal person. He had relationships."

Can we declare the movie official required viewing nationwide?

Image via Getty