Strong Island (2017)

“Black lives are too easy to take in America because we don't want to question why people are so afraid of black and brown people to begin with,” says Yance Ford, bluntly. “And that's what I want Strong Island to do.” [Source: The GuardianI'm not sure though Strong Island answered to that question.  

Just in case you know absolutely nothing about this Oscar-nominated/winning documentary, Strong Island centers on the murder of William Ford Jr., Yance Ford's 24-year-old African-American brother who was killed in 1992 by a 19-year-old white man. While examining the violent death of his brother, Yance Ford puts on trial the justice system in the United States, a system that allowed an all-white jury decide whether a white man was to be convicted for killing a black man.

With Strong Island, a documentary that has been in the making for 10 years, Ford tries to finds answers, to understand what went wrong, and if there was something he could have done to prevent his brother's murder. 

This is the kind of documentary that fills you with anger. Though this specific case happened almost 26 years ago, it is brutally relevant nowadays. Coloured men are still gunned down in America for no other reason than their skin colour and the perpetrator of the crime walks away unpunished most of the time. 

Strong Island is also an intimate and harrowing portrait of what can happen to a family when one of the family members is lost like this. It shows how each member grief when alone and when together. It shows how everyone blames themselves for what happened. It shows that peace can't be found when something like this happens, no matter how many years pass, they will always be looking for the truth. 

Technically speaking, what I really liked was Ford's decision to present the photos with his own hands in a white background (as you can see in the poster) opposed to the typical documentary full-screen shots. This makes it easy for you to develop a connection with the story, at least it did for me.

Strong Island is not perfect though. The main problem is that it struggles with keeping his focus on William's murder. Ford often mentions how racist the south has always been, remarking that his family has always been a victim of racism. Sure, it shows that nothing has changed in America but it feels forced at times. He also talks about his struggle to come to terms with his sexuality which is completely irrelevant to the documentary's storyline. 

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