“My brother’s death picked up my life and put it down somewhere else,” said Yance Ford in an interview with Filmmaker Magazine. “I had an image of myself in my mind as a working artist, and when he died, all of that changed.”
Earlier this year, Ford made his directorial debut with the highly personal documentary Strong Island. The film, which premiered at Sundance, is screening March 19 and 20 in New Directors New Films 2017 at Lincoln Center and MoMA in New York. Strong Island is an examination of the violent death of the filmmaker’s brother 25 years ago, and the judicial system that allowed his killer to go free. Through old and new footage, woven together with Ford’s narration, the film tells the story of Ford’s family and how they’ve reconciled the killing of one of their own.
Strong Island, which was supported by Creative Capital with a 2012 Moving Image award, won a Special Jury Prize for Storytelling at Sundance and has garnered critical acclaim.
In a review for The New Yorker, Brandon Harris wrote, “In the annals of cinematic memoir, there are very few films like Yance Ford’s Strong Island, a stylish and wrenching rumination on familial grief.”
In a five-star review, Charlie Phillips, film critic for The Guardian, noted:
“Ford demands our attention, even when he or his family admit to being less than perfect, or to laying out truths audiences might find difficult and complex. Ford warns us at the start that if we’re worried about being uncomfortable about the killing of a black man, we should leave the cinema. If we can’t bear to be exposed to racism, and the ways in which it’s structurally enshrined in the U.S. justice system and experienced every day in the tiniest ways, he invites us to walk out and stay in a bubble. This provocation is brilliant, and typical of a documentary that works both as a reality check for conservatives and a complacency check for liberals.”
Click to watch a trailer for Strong Island
Strong Island screens in New Directors New Films 2017, with showtimes on March 19 at Lincoln Center and March 20 at MoMA. Click here for tickets and more info.