Tracker Pixel for Entry

​“Strong Island”: Powerful Sundance Special Prize winner available on Netflix

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | September 27th, 2017

“Strong Island,” Yance Ford’s vital cinematic elegy to his slain brother, is a gripping documentary presented with control and precision. That careful formality serves both the story and the filmmaker’s underlying thematic questions addressing the absurd but commonplace outcomes of the notion of justifiable homicide and the use of reasonable fear as a means for perpetrators to claim self-defense.

In 1992, Ford’s then 24-year-old sibling, William Ford, Jr., was shot to death by Mark Reilly, a white mechanic. Even though Ford’s close friend Kevin Myers was nearby, the killing took place out of the direct sight of any potential eyewitnesses.

Statistically speaking, it was unsurprising when an all-white grand jury decided not to indict Reilly. Ford’s incredulous family members, initially expecting that a criminal case would be brought forward, speak about the slow-motion devastation of the system’s injustice and the effective destruction of their nuclear family in the months and years that followed.

Yance Ford, who often appears on camera in tight close-up shots, intimately processes his thoughts to articulate the impossible: “I’m not angry. I’m also not willing to accept that someone else gets to say who William was. And if you’re uncomfortable with me asking these questions, you should probably get up and go.”

Calls are made to several of the people involved with the original investigation, and Ford uses those conversations to underline the common way in which power is exercised against the marginalized.

But as the narrative unfolds, the filmmaker stakes out and clarifies positions that don’t rely on the procedural (mis)handling of his brother’s case: Ford said in an interview with Steve Rose, “I have no interest in giving Mark Reilly any space in this film. When you shoot my brother, you’ve said everything to me that you have to say.”

Instead of orienting in the direction of any lurid, true crime rundown of reported details, Ford makes some bold and rewarding choices. The insidiousness of zoning all African-American neighborhoods inside Long Island is expressed by Ford’s matter-of-fact narration and through the words of Ford’s mother Barbara Dunmore Ford, who leaves a lasting impression on viewers through the vivid detail and specificity of the anecdotes she shares.

Dunmore Ford’s presence in the movie is indispensable, and the way in which she addresses the toll of grief on her marriage results in one of the movie’s most unforgettable scenes.

Additionally, Yance Ford personalizes the loss of his brother by including a series of snapshots and photographs, physically arranged by hand within the frame (home movie footage is also incorporated, but to a lesser extent). The visual device calls to mind, among others, Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin’s stunning 2013 short “My Favorite Picture of You.”

From start to finish, Ford spent more than a decade on this project, and the full weight of its considerable impact lands with the filmmaker’s grim reminder that the conversation about violence against unarmed African Americans must be expanded beyond the coverage of police incidents to account as well for civilians who get away with murder.  

Recently in:

OXBOW N.D. – Marcus Larson stops along freshly tarred Trent Jones Drive, careful not to spill his coffee swishing in a ceramic mug. He’s aware his 1991 Chevy pickup doesn’t belong amongst the neighborhood’s Porsches and…

The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County (HCSCC) has been dedicated to the preservation of the history of Clay County. Since their mission is “To collect, preserve, interpret, and share the history and culture of Clay…

Thursday, December 21, 6-9pmSanctuary Events Center, 670 4th Ave NGet in the Christmas spirit singing your favorite Christmas songs with friends and family. Music provided by the Good Shepherd band (Lutheran Church of the Good…

According to a New York Times article titled: “Tinder, the Fast-Growing Dating App, Taps an Age-Old Truth,” close to 50 million people use Tinder. On average they spend 90 minutes a day assessing their matches. Men are three…

What the hell is happening to this country?For a long time the United States has been considered to be the richest and most powerful country in the world. Our president has been the leader of the free world for decades because of…

cjlarson75@gmail.comNewly remodeled since July of this year, the Spirits Lounge inside the Holiday Inn in Fargo takes the lounge concept to a level of comfort that isn’t often seen in town.On one side of the room, underneath two…

On the Corner of University and Northern Pacific sits a building that has just been revitalized. Once a horse barn, this large picturesque structure now houses Wild Terra Cider and Brewing. When the new owners Breezee and Ethan…

“The DIY scene welcomed me in at the age of 15 and I never left. The DIY scene has allowed me to travel to 49 of the 50 US states. I have made friends all over this country that I will have for the rest of my life. People…

On her biggest canvas to date, filmmaker Dee Rees paints a vivid picture of two American families in “Mudbound,” a deeply satisfying drama based on Hillary Jordan’s 2008 novel.Adapting the screenplay with collaborator Virgil…

hanhe@mnstate.eduThere are a variety of types of events and groups in our communities that encourage and support women. Robin Swanson, organizer of Her Story, wanted to create another special event for herself and other women. “I…

Theater B is now opening its second show of the season with a play entitled "I Will Not Go Gently" by Jennifer Childs. "This clever one-woman show plays with our sense of nostalgia and shines a light on our quest for self…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

Believe it or not, “The Holidays” are upon us. If you’ve been to Target lately, and I know you have, you may have noticed that the Christmahanakwanzika stuff is already up (if you’re unsure of that term, Google it).In fact,…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

By Tony Gehrigtonygehrig@gmail.com I do not blame any company for seeking incentives. Rather, I blame the government for giving them away. Incentives represent an unfair and unsustainable tax system that affects real people.Some…