One night in April 1992, the young African-American William Ford arrived at a garage owned by white men in Long Island, New York, to get his car that was being repaired at the place. A few minutes later, one of them killed him with a gun.
Strong Island, led by Yance Ford, William's sister, unearths this unpunished crime from a very personal perspective. The film is successful at becoming a cathartic treasure for a family that was shocked by the loss of the eldest son.
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The documentary begins with the call that Yance Ford makes to the attorney who was in charge of the murder case back in 1992. Yance asks her to answer some questions about the procedure that she carried out back then, when a jury in which there was no African-American representation ruled out that there was not enough evidence to take the white shooter to trial.
But the answers never came.
The main protagonists of the documentary are the three women who survived the tragedy, after Yance's father died of a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body a year after William's death.
During the several interviews that Yance leads to gather testimonies that reconstruct the antecedents, details and consequences of the death of her brother, the revelations of Barbara Dunmore Ford, the mother of Yance, are the hardest.
Barbara and her husband endeavored to raise healthy and respectful children and to keep them away from the vices of the streets. But finally, the hostility of a racially segregated society ended up touching them mortally in one way or another.
The interviews, illustrated by concise images of the main scenarios of this family story, alternate with a kind of confessional where Yance speaks and looks directly at the camera without any auto censorship.
This is not a documentary for those who may feel offended when someone talks clearly and crudely about how cruel it can be to live in an intrinsically racist society.