Skip to main content

Netflix Acquires Documentary ‘Strong Island’

Netflix has acquired worldwide rights to filmmaker Yance Ford’s documentary Strong Island, which had its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Strong Island chronicles the arc of a family across history, geography and tragedy, says Netflix, 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 a violent death. 

It is the story of the Ford family: Barbara Dunmore, William Ford and their three children.

In April 1992, the Fords’ eldest child, a black 24-year-old teacher named William Jr., was killed by a white man. 

This fall, Strong Island will launch globally on Netflix and in limited theatrical release.

Strong Island further highlights the scope of what kinds of stories can be told through documentary filmmaking,” Netflix VP of original documentary programming Lisa Nishimura said. “Yance Ford’s intimate re-telling of his family’s history of love, violence and loss is filtered through such a personal lens that each shot captures the complexity of the film’s many intersecting threads of race, sexuality, class, and gender; yet the explosiveness of each of these topics in our current cultural conversation is undeniably wide-ranging.”

The film also screened at both the Berlin and True/False film festivals and will next be shown in New York City on Sunday, March 19, as a part of New Directors/New Films

"Because Netflix is a global platform, Strong Island will be seen by communities around the world who are dealing with the issues that are unpacked on screen,” said Yance Ford. “It's my hope that this film will offer some a way to make sense of their own experience, and others a new way of seeing. Nothing comes close to describing how astonishing it is for me, that the world will in some measure come to know my brother.”

A Yanceville Films and Louverture Films production, Strong Island was produced by Ford and Joslyn Barnes and was co-produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen for Final Cut for Real. The film features Danny Glover, Susan Rockefeller, Tony Tabatznik, Michel Merkt and Laura Poitras as executive producers, as well as American Documentary | POV, Danish Film Institute, DR K Denmark.