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Parents' Guide to

Strong Island

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Emotionally raw docu on racial injustice in America.

Movie NR 2017 107 minutes
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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

age 18+

too slow-repetitive story (sad) too often

A 2017 documentary that took forever to tell. Unfortunately, in 2021 it's a story often have heard. Therefore, it was quite boring and very very very long. After about 35 minutes I thought I've been watching it for More than an hour.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

What makes Strong Island a truly unforgettable documentary is how it conveys the racism of America in both deeply historical and deeply personal terms. Instead of focusing exclusively on the central incident of the movie -- the racial injustice in the shooting death of filmmaker Yance Ford's older brother in 1992 -- Ford uses the personal history of his family and their experiences with the insidiousness of institutional racism in the broader context of what it means to be African-American in the United States. He explores how a hardworking middle-class family who played by the rules and instilled a strong sense of values in their children went through a profound loss compounded by justice not being served.

The personal anecdotes of family members and diary entries of Ford go far to humanize and provide a depth and nuance to a crime that TV, digital, and print media rarely bother showing, especially when it's an African-American man who was shot and killed. The emotional scars are still so clearly seen and felt, over two decades after the incident. And the relevance to today's sadly common news stories of unarmed African-American men shot and killed in cold blood is obvious. Strong Island forces audiences to acknowledge how the institutional racism that lies at the very core of America's birth and existence runs much deeper and penetrates much further into the very fabric of day-to-day existence than some want to believe.

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