It's rare that I will ever try to convince you that a film is worth seeing because it is "important"; then again, not every film is FRUITVALE STATION, the impressive feature debut from writer-director Ryan Coogler that won both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at this year's Sundance Film Festival. By all accounts, the movie also received a rousing standing ovation at Cannes last month, and now it's finally set to open.
FRUITVALE STATION follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan from "The Wire," "Friday Night Lights," RED TAILS, and CHRONICLE), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 to live the day like any other, maybe even a little more positive than he usually does. He has a girlfriend who loves him (Melonie Diaz), a beautiful little girl, and a tight-knit family that supports him, including his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday is also on New Year's Eve. For those of you who don't recognize Oscar's name (no SPOILER here--his real-life murder is the first thing the film shows us), his life was cut short when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year's Day, and in many ways, the repercussions of that event are still being felt today.
The film is remarkable because it doesn't paint Oscar as a saint (he'd been to jail, he sold pot, his temper got him in a lot of trouble, and he had been unfaithful to his girlfriend), but he was a man on the mend, trying to get out of the life. And he had a lot of love to share with those around him. At its core, FRUITVALE STATION is about all of us, going day after day, never knowing when we're going to die. It's a remarkable little film, and the story of getting it made is pretty impressive as well. Luckily, I've got seats to an advance Chicago screening of FRUITVALE STATION, after which writer-director Ryan Coogler and lead actor Michael B. Jordan will be on hand for a Q&A. Here are the details…
The early screening of FRUITVALE STATION will take place Monday, July 1 at 8:00 pm at a theater in Chicago (the exact location will only be given to the winners). To win a pair of tickets (or just one, if that's all you want), send me an email at FruitvaleChicago@aintitcoolmail.com (please note the new email address) with the subject line "Next Stop: Fruitvale Station" (exactly like that). In the body of the email, I need your full Name, whether or not you're bringing a Guest (each winner may bring ONE confirmed guest--if I think you gave your +1 to someone trolling for free tickets at the theater, you won't get in), and the answer to the following question: "What film absolutely gut-punched you with its message, and why?" I need a film title and a detailed reason for your choice. I'm giving you guys a lot of leeway with this, but keep your responses BRIEF--no more than 75 words (no matter how tempted you are to go over the limit). Best answers win, and you'll hear from me VERY SOON if you won, so check your email!
Because this is not an exclusive Ain't It Cool News event, it is overbooked to guarantee a full house for our guests. Winners' seats will be held until 15 minutes before showtime (meaning 7:45pm), at which time any empty seats in our rows will be given away. So you should arrive early to make sure you get in and get a good seat. If you can't arrive early, don't enter this contest. If there's even the slightest chance you or your guest will have to back out of attending or arrive late if you do win, don't enter. If you have a job that might make you late or unable to attend, or an ill/pregnant relative, or a temperamental significant other, or a scratchy throat, do not enter. And the 24-hour-notice-to-cancel rule is done. If you win and don't show up, the Black List is your new best friend.
Good luck, everyone! And thanks to the The Weinstein Company for giving us this very cool screening and bringing these great guests to Chicago.