The Sundance Film Festival is renowned for launching the careers of many directors, actors and filmmakers. This year, Ryan Coogler, a 26-year-old filmmaker from California’s Bay Area and a graduate of the MFA program at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, made his debut on the big stage with the film Fruitvale.
The film details the account of the true-life occurrences that surrounded the death of 22-year-old Bay Area resident Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot by former California transit officer Johannes Mehserle on New Year’s Day 2009. Grant was unarmed at the time.
The shooting started a public outcry across the nation after it was captured on video and images of Mehserle shooting Grant in the back were repeatedly broadcast on television and the Internet.
On Saturday, the film won both the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic film and the Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic film at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. First-time director Coogler accepted the prizes at the Sundance awards ceremony. While at USC, Coogler made several short films, including Locks, Gap, and Fig, which won the 2011 HBO Short Film Award at the American Black Film Festival.