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2016 Sundance Film Festival Predictions: Yance Ford’s Strong Island


The top coin getter (an impressive quarter of a million dollars) from last year’s The MacArthur Foundation grants, we’re thinking our third time at predicting this among the line-up will be a charm. As is the case with most docus, the production phase can be a lengthy and difficult to determine one, but we’re thinking this extra time will help shake the foundations of Park City. As we mentioned before, Yance Ford’s Strong Island has received all-round support from docu groups including Cinereach, IDFA Forum and the Sundance Institute.

Gist: In April 1992, William Ford, a black 24-year-old teacher argued with a white 19-year-old mechanic about the quality of a repair job. This common scenario turned deadly when the mechanic retrieved a .22 caliber rifle from the shop office and shot Ford once in the chest. Though he was unarmed, the mechanic claimed self-defense. When a Grand Jury decided not to pursue charges, his killer returned to his life and his family retreated into a devastating silence. Now, nearly 20 years after her brother’s death, director Yance Ford is asking questions.

Production Co./Producers: Thatgrl Productions’ Esther B. Robinson (The Canal Street Madam, A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and The Warhol Factory) & Yanceville Films’ Yance Ford.

Prediction: U.S. Documentary Competition with a bullet.

U.S. Distributor: Rights Available. TBD (domestic). TBD (international)

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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