Yance Ford, director of Netflix’s Strong Island, has made history as the first transgender director nominated for an Oscar.
Strong Island tells the story of how his family coped following the murder of his brother, William, Jr., and explores the systemic racism Black victims face.
Discussing the documentary with ESSENCE in September, Ford said, “I would hate for people to think that Strong Island is just about a family’s grief. It is about a family’s grief, yes, but it is also an interrogation of our criminal justice system.”
In 2017, Strong Island took home the special jury prize for storytelling at Sundance. The film has also taken home awards for Best Documentary at the Black Film Critics Circle Awards as well as at the Gotham Awards.
This time around, the film landed a nomination in the Documentary (Feature) category and if Ford wins, he will make history again as the first transgender director to take home the award.
“If we don’t start remembering, if we don’t start insisting that the fear of the people who take other lives be scrutinized as much as we scrutinize the lives of the people who are dead and can’t speak for themselves, nothing is going to change,” he continued. “It’s important that people understand that Strong Island is just as much about this claim of reasonable fear and our need to interrogate reasonable fear as it is about my family’s grief.”