21 user 44 critic

Strong Island (2017)

2:16 | Trailer
When filmmaker Yance Ford investigates the 1992 murder of a young black man, it becomes an achingly personal journey since the victim, 24-year-old William Ford Jr., was the filmmaker's brother.


Yance Ford
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Yance Ford ... Himself
Harvey Walker Harvey Walker ... Himself
Kevin Myers Kevin Myers ... Himself
Lauren Ford Lauren Ford ... Herself
David Breen David Breen ... Himself
Ed Boyar Ed Boyar ... Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Barbara Dunmore Ford Barbara Dunmore Ford ... Herself


Examining the violent death of the filmmaker's brother and the judicial system that allowed his killer to go free, this documentary interrogates murderous fear and racialized perception, and re-imagines the wreckage in catastrophe's wake, challenging us to change.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Do You Know My Brother?




TV-MA | See all certifications »



USA | Denmark



Release Date:

15 September 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Strong Island - A Morte do Meu Irmão See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Premiered at Sundance in the same week of Donald Trump's inauguration. See more »


Yance Ford: How do you measure the distance of reasonable fear?
See more »


Strong Island
by J.V.C. F.O.R.C.E.
Album: Doin' Damage
Released: 1988 Genre: Hip-hop/rap
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent, deeply moving film - truly moving and superb story telling in the best possible way.
4 June 2018 | by fryernickSee all my reviews

Firstly, I don't in any way purport to be a film reviewer - that said after watching this excellent film I was already feeling compelled to lodge a review for it - this was further amplified when I saw what I believe are extremely unfair negative reviews featuring prominently - and my strong suspicion is that these reviews are motivated by racism, hatred and complete ignorance. And I say this as a white middle aged man, who lives outside America but there is no way a fair minded person could watch this wonderful film and give it 1-4 stars - they've a clear axe to grind. e.g one of the reviews almost IMMEDIATELY flagging that the film maker is a transgender.....what does that have to do with ANYTHING?

The films arc is somewhat unconventional in that it focuses heavily on pulling the viewer inside the family - showing you who they were, how they came to be, what they went through to get where they were etc etc. It humanises them and allows them to be seen as vulnerable, imperfect people like the rest of us. I find it very odd that people see this as too slow paced or boring - I'm no soft touch but even I was moved and affected by the way this mosiac was painted.

The structure of the story telling sometimes seems a tad convoluted as it moves back and forth perhaps not giving as much info as one would like but it works well in the end. I'm again shocked some reviews feel the interviewees were acting (incredibly insulting - if anything I felt is was clearly raw emotional and absolutely genuine), the facial closeups are because the entire film is about the effect of the tragic loss of William on their family - nothing shows this more affectingly than the faces of the people closest to it. And finally that people had the poor judgement to accuse the interviewees of racist tones etc - is just outrageous & sadly like most of such comments far more telling about those who wrote them. I found the poise & balance in the story telling & interviewees pretty amazing given the events that occurred on top of what I am sure I can't really even slightly empathise with - that is being a person of colour in a deeply racist country.

Although it'd have been easy to give it a 10 to 'balance out' what I feel are stupidly low scores motivated by numerous hatreds, I've tried to be true and given it an 8. I agree the editing isn't as good as it could be in a few minor spots, I found the very upbeat closing credit music choice quite jarring given the rather somber conclusion (though felt it might have had personal relevance to the maker/family) and agree that a bit more Errol Morris type expert interviews on the self defence laws, interpretation of the autopsy etc would have been a terrific counter to the phenomenal emotional depth of the film.

I won't include any spoilers but it truly is a superb film - I watch a lot of feature docus and whilst i wouldn't say this is the best I've seen it's several hours very well invested if you're open to empathising with others and can put prejudices and preconceptions aside (which I believe several other reviewers clearly have not been able to do). I'm shocked it's currently only got a ~6.5 rating....it's a 8-9 IMHO and my wife felt the same way. I hope to see more from the filmmaker in the future and thank him for sharing this deeply personal story with the world - I believe it's important and extremely thought provoking both socially and as a person.

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