We, as Netflix-consumers, just can’t seem to get enough of a good ole true-crime documentary, can we? You already know the members of the rapidly-expanding dream-team: Making A Murderer, The Keepers, Casting JonBenet et al, but what’s next? What will your next obsession be?
Well, there’s a good chance it could be Strong Island, a powerful crime doc based on the 1992 racially-charged killing of William Ford Jr. When he was 24-years-old, he was senselessly murdered by white 19-year-old Mark Reilly, a mechanic who claimed that he acted in self-defense. William, who was un-armed when he was shot by Reilly, as a result of a minor traffic dispute (hence the ‘senseless’ part of the sorry affair).
Of course, the world being what it is, Reilly was acquitted, and this film, directed by Ford Jr’s brother, examines why this was allowed to happen, and the family’s response to the injustice.
Netflix say it’s a “deeply intimate and meditative film,” that “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.”
It’s currently holding that all-important and highly rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes – here’s what critics are saying about it:
“Ford is more than a witness-he is a crucial participant in the events of the film, and its elements of pain and guilt are reflected in his grief-stricken, self-interrogating aesthetic.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker
“Ford's intent as a filmmaker isn't just to expose and protest the injustice of his brother's murder. It's to say: Behold what was lost. A life. A human being. A complex soul. A family's equilibrium. Feel what was lost.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“The intimacy Ford develops is rare and transfixing. Strong Island is as much an exploration of the filmmaker's identity and feelings surrounding his brother's murder as it is a loving, even-handed portrait of William.” – Sophie Brown, Sight and Sound
“The documentary won't bring William Ford back, and it may give Yance Ford some catharsis, but more importantly it could and should lead to greater justice and empowerment.” – Charlie Phillips, The Guardian
You can catch the film on Netflix on September 15th. Here’s the trailer: