Yance Ford's amazing Strong Island won the award for Best Documentary at the Gotham Independent Film Awards on Sunday night, November 26 2017.
In his acceptance speech director Yance Ford said: "There is nothing exceptional about the family in Strong Island. Hard work did not spare this family from the unrelenting systemic violence that has stalked black Americans since the founding of this nation. They did not survive. My family did not survive. That destruction is what should be exceptional but it is not. In 1992 11,175 black men were murdered in the United States, but that number does not include my brother because his death was not a crime. In fact, it’s impossible to know how many other homicides are not included in that number. The profound fear woven into our justice system makes a mockery of due process. Explanations of 'I was afraid for my life' or 'I was afraid' are enough to have wiped countless numbers of people from FBI statistics. They are enough to wipe people from our lives.
Uninterrogated fear combined with systemic racial bias mean that entire families disappear. There is a direct line through history on to which my brother falls. But he is like any young man on the streets of Gotham tonight. William Ford Jr. was never meant to survive. Look around this room and know that many people were never meant to survive. Strong Island reclaims one family’s narrative from history. And we hope to shatter this narrative for the future."
Strong Island was co-produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen for Final Cut for Real and edited by Janus Billeskov Jansen. The film is available now on Netflix and is also qualified for the 90th Academy Awards.