THE STORYTELLER // Telling the tale of gun violence
Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler showed us what we weren’t supposed to see.
If not for the cell-phone videos recorded by numerous witnesses, the death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day 2009 might’ve just been another statistic— yet another case of an African-American male brought down by gun violence. But that shocking footage, which shows an unarmed Grant being shot in the back by a white police officer (and quickly went viral on YouTube), is what inspired Ryan Coogler, a recent film-school grad at the time, to make a movie about the incident. “I automatically saw myself in Oscar,” says the Oakland, CA, resident, now 27. “We looked alike. We were the same age, from the same neighborhood, wore the same clothes. And because we had those connections, his death really affected me. I needed to tell his story to make sense of what happened.” The result is Fruitvale Station, a poignant tale of a troubled young man (Michael B. Jordan) who’s hopeful about his future on what turns out, sadly, to be the last day of his life. The gritty, documentary-style feature, which opened two weeks after George Zimmerman was acquitted of the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, has already garnered Coogler the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at Sundance, as well as the award for Best First Film at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. While the accolades are flattering, Coogler had a nobler ambition. “I wanted to get to the humanity of Oscar’s story and make a film that everyone, no matter your race or age, could relate to,” he explains. “I hope people will see a little of themselves in Oscar and remember: Our surfaces may be different, our interiors are the same. —Claire Connors
Fit Fact: “I’ve started watching what I eat more carefully,” Coogler says. “I recently stopped eating red meat, except for special occasions. And I get up every morning and do a few rounds of situps and pushups.”
THE TASTEMAKER // Pushing the plaid to pay off
Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey is altering the fabric of the fashion industry.
Your grandfather’s Burberry isn’t Christopher Bailey’s. After earning his stripes (or plaid) as a womenswear designer at Donna Karan and Gucci, Bailey joined Burberry as creative director in 2001 and immediately set to implementing a bold vision: making the 150-year-old company hip again. Within a few years, what was once an old-timer’s trench coat became a twenty something’s envy. What he did has been done before—Tom Ford similarly grabbed Gucci by the horns in the mid-’90s—but Bailey’s doing things differently. The English designer, who’s in charge of not only the company’s product lines but also its advertising and store design, took to turning Burberry into an interactive experience, with social media campaigns (making it the most followed brand on Facebook, with more than 15 million Likes) and interactive media features in the stores themselves. But the majority of Bailey’s cool points come from embracing music culture as part of the fashion world, creating Burberry Acoustic, a music video series focusing on emerging British artists. Today, as the company’s chief creative officer, Bailey continues to blur the lines of his job description, most recently developing Burberry Brit Rhythm, a music-inspired fragrance Bailey himself helped to formulate, along with its packaging and an accompanying capsule collection. —Ben Radding
THE PEAK MASTER // Upping the ante in the mountains
Freddie Wilkinson is reinventing climbing with trailblazing “big traverses."
If anyone understands extreme mountaineering, both as a world class climber and as a documentarian, it’s Freddie Wilkinson.
He and other climbers are reshaping the sport in a new, more adventurous (and arguably more dangerous) way. The leading edge is no longer simply about putting up new routes to the top of single peaks, but instead stringing together multiple ascents into highly exposed “big traverses” of contiguous mountains.
In 2012, the then 32-year-old Wilkinson and partner Renan Ozturk completed the so-called Tooth Traverse in Alaska, a four-day blitz of knife-edged peaks in the famed Alaska Range.
“The improbability of pulling off a big traverse is what makes it so captivating to try,” he says. “So many factors must come together—weather, familiarity with the terrain, fitness, and overall psyche. People have been doing these types of climbs in the Alps for a century. Looking ahead, there’s really only one place left to go: the Himalayas.”
Two years ago, Wilkinson summited the second-highest unclimbed peak in the world—Saser Kangri II in India— and won the highest award in climbing, the Piolet d’Or, for doing it.
Now he and Ozturk are producing a documentary on the Tooth Traverse, which also tells the story of legendary climber and cartographer Bradford Washburn, who mapped and photographed many of these peaks for the first time. The film features stunning HD aerial footage and Washburn’s own vintage photos.
Making the film reminded Wilkinson that the era of climbing-as-exploration is almost over. “There are no true frontiers left on terrestrial earth,” he says. “Now the challenge for modern climbers is to enter regions that exist in political, rather than geographic, wilderness. —John Rasmus
Fit Fact: “Alpine climbing is an endurance sport,” Wilkinson says. “I train by ‘collecting’ cardio hours moving in the mountains—in winter I ski and do solo laps up ice climbs; in summer, I go trail running. The key is to adjust your pace to maximize time, and not get caught up on your speed.