Strong Island chronicles the arc of a family across history, geography and tragedy - 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 an unexpected, violent death. It is the story of the Ford family: Barbara Dunmore, William Ford and their three children and how their lives were shaped by the enduring shadow of race in America. A deeply intimate and meditative film, Strong Island asks what one can do when the grief of loss is entwined with historical injustice, and how one grapples with the complicity of silence, which can bind a family in an imitation of life, and a nation with a false sense of justice.
YANCE FORD | Director, Producer
Yance Ford, who is transgender, is a recipient of the Creative Capital Award, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, a Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellowship, and was among Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2011. For ten years Ford was privileged to work as Series Producer for the PBS showcase POV and where his curatorial work helped garner more than 16 Emmy nominations. Ford is also an architectural welder, and while at Modern Art Foundry he helped assemble the sculpture "Maman" by Louise Bourgeois—the series of three spiders exhibited at Rockefeller Center, and now on permanent display at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.
JOSLYN BARNES | Producer
Joslyn Barnes is a writer and producer. Among the films she has been involved with producing since co-founding Louverture Films together with actor Danny Glover and partners Susan Rockefeller and Bertha Foundation are: the feature documentaries Trouble the Water, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, The House I Live In, Concerning Violence, Shadow World, and the forthcoming films Tigmi Nigren by Tala Hadid, Idiom by RaMell Ross, Angels Are Made of Light by James Longley, and Aquarela by Victor Kossakovsky; the narrative features Bamako, The Time That Remains, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, The Narrow Frame of Midnight, Cemetery of Splendour, White Sun, and the forthcoming Zama by Lucrecia Martel.
SIGNE BYRGE SØRENSEN | Co-Producer
Signe Byrge Sørensen is a two-time Oscar® nominee for producing The Act of Killing in 2014 and The Look of Silence in 2016. She was nominated for the Producer’s Guild Award in 2016 for The Look of Silence. She won Cinema Eye awards for the production of both these films. Signe Byrge Sørensen has been a producer since 1998. She began in SPOR Media in 1998, moved to Final Cut Productions ApS in 2004 and co-founded Final Cut for Real ApS in 2009. She has produced documentaries in for example South Africa, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Thailand, Indonesia, Colombia, the US and Argentina, besides Denmark and Sweden. While at SPOR Media she was the Danish co-producer for Steps for the future. She holds an MA in International Development Studies and Communication Studies from Roskilde University, Denmark, 1998 (1st). She did the European co-production courses EURODOC in 2003 and EAVE in 2010. In 2014 Signe Byrge Sørensen received the Danish Documentary Award called the Roos Prize. She also received the Danish Award called The Timbuktu Award and the Danish Director's Award called The Ib Award.
ALAN JACOBSEN | Director of Photography
Alan Jacobsen has photographed two documentaries for two-time Oscar nominated director Marshall Curry: Racing Dreams and Point and Shoot, both films receiving the Grand Jury Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival. Other docs of note include SXSW cinema verité favorite Election Day, the Emmy-nominated Journalist and the Jihadi: The Murder of Daniel Pearl for HBO, and Oscar-shortlisted and Sundance Competition title The Trials of Darryl Hunt. Alan also shot the Sundance Jury Award-winning short Wet Dreams and False Images. Alan’s narrative feature work includes the Tribeca Film Festival selection The Auteur, and the Sundance Film Festival competition film Toe To Toe. In addition to short-form and commercial work for directors including Peter Sillen, Jeremy Saulnier, Annetta Marion, and Morgan Spurlock, Alan is currently shooting a globetrotting feature doc for the Rockefeller Foundation, as well as Finding 52, for Josh Zeman and Adrian Grenier.
JANUS BILLESKOV JANSEN | Editor
Janus Billeskov Jansen entered the Danish film industry in 1970 and in 1973 he was the lead editor in charge on a feature film for the first time. He has edited a large number of internationally acknowledged feature films and documentaries, and directed numerous Danish documentaries. Since 1979 he has been teaching editing and narrative at The National Film School of Denmark. He won the 2009 Sundance World Cinema Documentary Film Editing Award for his work on Burma VJ. Janus has cooperated with most of the influential Danish directors in the past 30 years; most significant is the lifelong creative relationship with the Academy Award winning director Billie August.
JT TAKAGI | Sound Recordist
Ms. Takagi is NY based sound recordist, filmmaker and educator. Her documentary recording credits include Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (also at Sundance 2017), Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement, August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand, Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, The Rise and Fall of Penn Station, as well as projects for HBO, History Channel and A&E. She received a sound Emmy nomination for Spike Lee’s Four Little Girls and a CAS nomination for Stanley Nelson’s Sweet Honey in the Rock: Raise Your Voice. Takagi’s own films, on Asian American and Korean peninsular issues have aired on POV and PBS select as well. She teaches, is the interim Executive Director of Third World Newsreel, a progressive media arts center, and serves on the board of several Asian American community organizations
HILDUR GUÐNADÓTTIR | Original Music
Hildur is an Icelandic cellist, composer and singer who has been manifesting herself at the forefront of experimental pop and contemporary music (e.g. with the band múm). In her solo works she draws out a broad spectrum of sounds from her instrument, ranging from intimate simplicity to huge soundscapes. Her recent film credits include Tom of Finland, The Revenant and Sicario.
CRAIG SUTHERLAND | Original Music
Craig Sutherland was born in Scotland and raised in the small village of Kincardine in the 1980’s. His mother presented him with his first cassette tape and walkman when he was just two years old. Sutherland believes this was the spark that set his love for sound ablaze. This love of sound, coupled with his fascination of the moving image has led him to become a film composer and sound designer; and one with a unique sonic palette. 2015 saw Craig relocating from Scotland to New York City to design sound for The Light Between Oceans (DreamWorks) directed by Derek Cianfrance. Now living in New York, he recently composed music and designed sound for Judd Apatow’s 30/30 documentary on Mets legends Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, and for Yance’s Ford feature documentary Strong Island.
DANNY GLOVER | Executive Producer
In addition to being one of the most acclaimed actors of our time, with a career spanning 30 years from “Places in the Heart”, “The Color Purple”, the “Lethal Weapon” series and the award-winning “To Sleep with Anger”, Danny Glover has also produced, executive produced and financed numerous projects for film, television and theatre. Among these are “Good Fences”, “3 AM”, “Freedom Song”, “Get on the Bus”, “Deadly Voyage”, “Buffalo Soldiers”, “The Saint of Fort Washington”, “To Sleep with Anger”, and “Mooladé”, as well as the series “Courage” and “America’s Dream”. Since co-founding Louverture Films, Glover has executive or co-produced “Bamako”, “Africa Unite”, “Trouble the Water”, “Salt of this Sea”, “Soundtrack for a Revolution”, “Dum Maaro Dum”, “The Black Power Mixtape”, “The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan”, “The House I Live In”, “Highway”, “The Narrow Frame of Midnight”, “Cemetery of Splendour”, and “White Sun”. He associate produced “The Time That Remains” and the 2010 Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”. The recipient of countless awards for his humanitarian and advocacy efforts on behalf of economic and social justice causes, Glover is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Amnesty International.
SUSAN ROCKEFELLER | Executive Producer
Susan Rockefeller is a partner in Louverture Films and a documentary filmmaker whose in-depth look at critical issues has won top awards at many film festivals across the United States and around the world. Her recent efforts include producing and directing the HBO documentary "Making the Crooked Straight," which received a Christopher Award; and directing and producing "Striking a Chord" on the ability of music to help heal Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD). She directed and produced "Mission of Mermaids" on ocean health, and is currently in production on two films: one about agricultural breeders, farmers and chefs; the other on Bach's "Coffee Cantata." When she’s not making films, Susan designs message-inspired jewelry to raise awareness about protecting family, art and nature, and sits on the boards of Oceana, the We Are Family Foundation and the program committee for The Stone Barns for Sustainable Agriculture.
BERTHA FOUNDATION | Executive Producer
Bertha Foundation dreams of a more just world and supports forms of activism that aim to bring about change. We champion those using media, law and enterprise as tools to achieve their vision. We envision a society where stories come from many different voices, where law is used as a tool for justice and where business delivers positive social impact. We work with a network of people whom we believe can change the world - activists working with storytellers and lawyers. While powerful on their own, we also look for opportunities for leaders to collaborate across portfolios.
MICHEL MERKT | Executive Producer
Michel Merkt is an entertainment entrepreneur based in The Principality of Monaco. He is mainly working with independent production companies on international features and co-productions and documentaries for cinema. His credits include Maps to the Stars (Palme d’Or best actress 2014) from David Cronenberg and Life from Anton Corbijn, Arabian Nights (Oscar® 2016 pre nomination by the Portuguese Film Academy), and In The Shadow of Women, featured at the Directors’ Fortnight. In 2016 he produced Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann, Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, Claude Barras’ animation film My Life as a Zucchini, Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius, Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World, and Oliver Laxe’s Mimosas – all of which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival or Director’s Fortnight 2016. He is currently working on projects from Lucrecia Martel, Michele Pannetta, Anup Singh and Shahaf Peled, to name a few. Furthermore, Michel is a consultant for numerous private investors, foundations and philanthropic organizations. One of his goals is “not to change, the world but at least to try to change the vision of the world.” He is one of the founders of CIC (Cannes Investors Club), part of the Marché du Film program, with the aim of contributing towards the development of cinema by facilitating networking and giving a first approach to the movie business and investment opportunities to influential investors.
LAURA POITRAS | Executive Producer
Laura is a filmmaker and journalist. Her film Citizenfour won an Oscar® for best documentary, as well as awards from BAFTA, Independent Spirit Award, and the Director’s Guild of America. The first film in her 9/11 trilogy, My Country, My Country, was nominated for an Oscar. The second film, The Oath, was nominated for two Emmys. Her reporting on NSA surveillance shared in the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service. She received a Peabody Award for her film Flag Wars. She recently exhibited her first solo museum show at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is a co-creator of Field of Vision.
PRESS COVERAGE: NEW YORK, AUG 22ND, 2017
SELECTED PRESS LINKS
EXCLUSIVE Trailer Premiere | Netflix's Next Crime Documentary Taks A 'Deeply Intimate' Look at A 1992 Homicide, by Chris Harris, Aug 22, 2017
Towards Faces, by Sophie Mayer, July 30, 2017
The 8 Best Trans Directors Working Today, by Jude Dry, July 14, 2017
A Guide To The Rest Of Summer 2017’s Netflix Original Series, Specials And Films, by Jillian Capewell, July 13, 2017
2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Documentary Feature, by Anne Thompson, July 6, 2017
Episode 49b: B. Ruby Rich, with Club Des Femmes and Yance Ford, June 28, 2017
Film Festival Roundup, Montclair Film Festival Awards Announcement, by Kate Erbland, May 11, 2017
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
Montclair Film Festival: 'Lady Macbeth,' 'Strong Island' Among Award Winners, by Hilary Lewis, May 9, 2017
Montclair Film Festival 2017: The prize-winning pictures, by Stephen Whitty, May 9, 2017
Montclair Film Festival Announces 2017 Award Winners, by Lauren Huff, May 8, 2017
Black filmmakers showcase their talents at Montclair festival, Interview with Yance Ford, by Ricardo Kaulessar, May 5, 2017
"Strong Island", review, by Kevin Ritchie, April 25, 2017
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
Netflix Acquires Yance Ford's Sundance Doc "Strong Island", by Mia Galuppo, March 17, 2017
SHADOW AND ACT
Netflix Acquires Yance Ford's Powerful, Poetic Documentary "Strong Island", March 17, 2017
Netflix Nabs Yance Ford’s "Strong Island"; Sundance Doc Traces History Of A Murder, by Greg Evans, March 17, 2017
The World Viewed: New Directors on Their New Films, Part II, by Aaron Cutler, March 16, 2017
THE NEW YORKER
Three Genre-Expanding Documentaries About Racist Crimes of the Past, by Richard Brody, March 8, 2017
Make It Real: See Through Me, "Strong Island" included in Piece on First-Person Filmmaking, by Eric Hynes, March 3, 2017
Berlinale Blog: Best and worst and most medium, by Ben Knight, February 19, 2017
"Strong Island" Included in Festival Wrap-Up, February 18, 2017
Berlinale Blog: Caught on "Strong Island", by Ben Knight, February 17, 2017
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CINEMATOGRAPHERS
Sundance Film Festival 2017 Standouts, February 15, 2017
FORD FOUNDATION | EQUAL CHANGE BLOG
"Strong Island" Included in Festival Wrap-Up, by Cara Mertes, February 8, 2017
"Strong Island" Exclusive Trailer: Sundance Award-Winning Documentary Gets a Stirring First Look, by Kate Erbland, February 6, 2017
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Sundance Wrap-Up Including Quotes from Yance Ford, by Steven Zeitchik, February 5, 2017
"Strong Island", Festival Wrap-up, by Eric Lavallee, February 2, 2017
SIGHT & SOUND MAGAZINE
"Strong Island" review: a haunting memento of institutional racism and personal grief, by Sophie Brown, January 31, 2017
"Strong Island" Included in Festival Wrap-Up, by Walker King, January 30, 2017
Sundance: "Strong Island" one of the 12 Best Movies of the 2017 Festival, January 30, 2017
"You Are Forced to Look Very Carefully": DP Alan Jacobsen on "Strong Island", January 29, 2017
FORD FOUNDATION | YOUTUBE CHANNEL
"Strong Island", Video: Interview with Yance Ford, January 29, 2017
Sundance Winners, "Strong Island" wins U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, January 28, 2017
"Strong Island", Interview with Yance Ford, January 27, 2017
"Strong Island" review - an authentic, painful journey into injustice, by Charlie Phillips, January 26, 2017
Powerful and Personal Look at Race in America - Sundance Review, by Eric Kohn, January 25, 2017
THE NEW YORKER
Yance Ford's Powerful Cinematic Memoir, "Strong Island", by Brandon Harris, January 24, 2017
"Strong Island" Sundance Review: Murder Victim's Sister Pens a Haunting Elegy, by Dan Callahan, January 23, 2017
"Strong Island", Sundance Review, by David D'Arcy, January 23, 2017
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
"Strong Island" : Film Review | Sundance 2017, by David Rooney, January 23, 2017
"Strong Island" Included in Sundance LGBT Talent Preview, by Jude Dry, January 18, 2017
WHAT (NOT) TO DOC
2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: "Strong Island", December 30, 2016
Photo by Simon Luethi