Strong Island (2017)

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Critic Consensus: Strong Island uses one family's heartbreaking tragedy to offer a sobering picture of racial injustice in modern America.

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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.

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Critic Reviews for Strong Island

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (14)

Ford's building blocks are familiar, but this is no call-to-action film or how-to guide for getting answers and moving on.

Jul 24, 2018 | Full Review…

It's deceptively simple, but it does so much so well. It's heartbreaking by the end...It's just really, really powerful.

Jul 24, 2018 | Rating: 9/10 | Full Review…

A view of systemic racism through a highly personal and artistic lens.

Sep 21, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
Newsday
Top Critic

Strong builds a poignant, methodical portrait of loss. Telling William's story won't bring him back, but at least it will let the world know he lived.

Sep 16, 2017 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

There are questions that circle around themselves, endlessly, providing no broader outlook. However, by the same token, it is that very lack of objectivity that makes Strong Island the experience that it is. It is a very tough film to shake.

Sep 15, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

The doc is a demanding, wrenching watch; an important work, if not necessarily one you'd recommend to your friends.

Sep 15, 2017 | Full Review…
TheWrap
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Strong Island

½

By structuring this film as an intimate exploration of the pain and personal suffering that a family was forced to go through following a horrific tragedy, Ford creates a poignant and heartbreaking documentary that exposes the injustices of a racist society and justice system.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

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