At Sundance, the momentum behind Ryan Coogler's debut feature about the last days in the life of Oscar Grant proved strong enough to propel the film to the festival's top Grand Jury Prize for an American narrative film, despite what at least one critic called "little prefestival buzz."
Coogler's drama, produced by Forest Whitaker and picked up by the Weinstein Co. for $2.5 million last week, had already brought home the festival's Audience Award when the Grand Jury win was announced Saturday night. As he presented the award, former 20th Century Fox chairman Tom Rothman told the filmmakers, "This will not be the last time you guys walk to a podium."
In his acceptance speech, Coogler thanked Sundance, the Grant family and the SF Film Society before all but promising to bring it back to the Bay Area for more early screenings:
We can't wait to share this movie with everyone who didn't get a chance to see it at #Sundance! Especially the people in the Bay Area!!— FRUITVALE (@fruitvalemovie) January 27, 2013