|STRONG ISLAND (director: Yance Ford; cinematographer: Alan Jacobsen; editor: Janus Billeskov Jansen; music: Hildur Gudnadottir, Craig Sutherland; Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Joslyn Barnes, Yance Ford; Netflix; 2017)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Socially conscious documentary by first-time director Yance Ford, the brother of the victim. It's based on a painful justice story that's real, that Yancy investigated for ten years.
In April 1992, the model citizen,William Ford Jr., a black 24-year-old high school math teacher in Long Island was fatally shot by the 19-year-old white mechanic Mark Reilly during an altercation at an autoshop. There was no mystery as to who was responsible, as the mechanic was arrested for manslaughter. But Reilly claimed he shot him in self-defense. The all-white grand jury declined to indict him. Ford's brother directs an emotionally gripping look the murder and trial had on his family, and calls out the racism of the verdict.
It's a very tough film to shake off. At one moment Strong Island is an intense investigation film (built mainly through interviews), but the next it's a personal study in grief. In the end it's bitter tale about an unresolved murder, where the killer is known.
REVIEWED ON 3/15/2018 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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