Strong Island: Yance Ford’s Moving Docu of his Family

Strong Island, Yance Ford’s documentary is a moving record of the director’s family and the tragedy that befell them, as well as a commentary on racial injustices that have prevailed nationwide–right up to the present moment.

The feature chronicles the arc of one family across history, geography and tragedy. It goes 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 tells the story of the Ford family: Barbara Dunmore, William Ford, and their three children, and how their lives were shaped by the enduring significance of race in America.
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.
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 imitation of life, and a nation with false sense of justice.
Yance Ford, who is transgender, is a recipient of the Creative Capital Award, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, a Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellowship, and was among Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2011.
For ten years Ford worked as Series Producer for the PBS showcase POV, where his work helped garner more than 16 Emmy nominations. Ford is also an architectural welder, and while at Modern Art Foundry he helped assemble the sculpture “Maman” by Louise Bourgeois – the series of three spiders exhibited at Rockefeller Center and now on permanent display at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.
The film was produced by Joslyn Barnes and executive produced by Danny Glover, Signe Byrge Sørensen, Laura Poitras, Susan Rockefeller, Tony Tabatznik and Michel Merkt.