Strong Island will premiere on Netflix this September – and a new trailer gives us a glimpse of the powerful clout the documentary carries.
In April 1992, on Long Island NY, William Jr., the Ford’s eldest child, a black 24 year-old teacher, was killed by Mark Reilly, a white 19 year-old mechanic. Although Ford was unarmed, he became the prime suspect in his own murder. Director Yance Ford chronicles the arc of his family across history, geography and tragedy – from the racial segregation of the Jim Crow South to the promise of New York City; from the presumed safety of middle class suburbs, to the maelstrom of an unexpected, violent death. It is the story of the Ford family: Barbara Dunmore, William Ford and their three children and how their lives were shaped by the enduring shadow of racism in America.
A deeply intimate and meditative film, Strong Island asks what one can do when the grief of loss is entwined with historical injustice, and how one grapples with the complicity of silence, which can bind a family in an imitation of life, and a nation with a false sense of justice. You can read our review from Sundance London here.
The film, which was snapped up by Netflix at Sundance this year, will be released on 15th September worldwide. Here’s the trailer:
Netflix snaps up prize-winning Sundance doc Strong Island
19th March 2017
Netflix has snapped up the worldwide streaming rights to Strong Island.
Yance Ford’s documentary, which premiered at Sundance this year, went on to win the US Documentary Special Jury Award for Storytelling. Now, as it screens today in New York at another festival, Netflix has stepped in to add the movie to its growing line-up of Sundance hits.
In 1992, Ford’s brother William was shot and killed by a white mechanic, after a common complaint about a car repair spiralled out of control. The mechanic claimed he fired in self-defence, and although William was unarmed, he quickly became the prime suspect in his own death. 20 years after a jury set the shooter free, Ford charts his family’s history, exploring pertinent, yet personal, issues of grief, race, fear and injustice.
The film is produced by Ford and Joslyn Barnes and was co-produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen for Final Cut for Real. Exec producers include Danny Glover, Susan Rockefeller, Michel Merkt, Bertha Foundation and Laura Poitras.
“Because Netflix is a global platform, Strong Island will be seen by communities around the world who are dealing with the issues that are unpacked on screen,” said Ford in a statement. “It’s my hope that this film will offer some a way to make sense of their own experience, and others a new way of seeing. Nothing comes close to describing how astonishing it is for me, that the world will in some measure come to know my brother.”
Deadline reports that Netflix has called Ford’s movie a “deeply intimate and meditative film” that “asks what one can do when the grief of loss is entwined with historical injustice, and how one grapples with the complicity of silence, which can bind a family in an imitation of life, and a nation with a false sense of justice”.
“Yance Ford’s intimate retelling of his family’s history of love, violence and loss is filtered through such a personal lens that each shot captures the complexity of the film’s many intersecting threads of race, sexuality, class and gender,” said Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP Original Documentary Programming.
The movie joins several other Sundance films acquired by Netflix, including I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, Mudbound and Casting JonBenet.
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