What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fruitvale Station is a drama based on the true story of a controversial shooting that happened on New Year's Day 2009; the movie takes place over the 24 hours leading up to the incident. Violence is an issue during the shooting sequence; the actual footage is shown, as well as the fictional re-creation. And language is very strong, with many uses of the "N" word, "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch." There's some kissing and sensuality and some drinking and smoking. The main character, Oscar Grant, is depicted as a complex person. He's a drug dealer who picks up a huge bag of pot to sell, but he later decides not to go through with it. He has a history of cheating on his girlfriend, but he's also presented as a good person who loves his family and is trying hard to straighten out. The movie is highly acclaimed, picking up major awards at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals.
  • Families can talk about Fruitvale Station's violence. How is it different from the violence in other movies? Does the fact that the movie is based on a true story affect the impact of the violence?
  • Oscar is troubled and makes some mistakes. Does this make you like him any less? Why or why not? How do you feel about the movie's portrayal of the cops? Did you hate them? Feel sorry for them? Are they stereotypes? Do they deserve to have their story told?
  • How do you feel about the inclusion of the footage of the real incident? Why is this footage so powerful? How did you react to it?
  • What's the difference between "based on a true story" and an actual true story? Does it matter whether everything in this movie actually happened? How could you find out which parts may have been fictionalized?
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