Black transgender director Yance Ford just made history by becoming the first trans filmmaker ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. He received a Best Documentary Feature nomination for his film Strong Island earlier this week.
Ford’s film explores the 1992 shooting of his unarmed brother William by a white mechanic. The mechanic went free thanks to an all-white jury, leaving Ford’s family to deal with a profound sense of anger and helplessness.
“The police had turned my brother into the prime suspect in his own murder,” Ford says in the film’s trailer (below).
The resulting documentary reveals a loving, intimate portrait of a family rocked by racial injustice. Despite their shared experience, they can never really know what happened that night or whether it might happen again to someone else.
Strong Island premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim. Netflix began showing the film around August 2017. It marks Ford’s directorial debut.
Here’s a trailer for Yance Ford’s Strong Island:
Regarding his film’s Oscar nomination, the transgender director told Entertainment Weekly, “I think that everybody out there should know that there is a generation of trans directors who are coming for their Oscars. So this might be the first, but it certainly won’t be the last.”
Ford isn’t the first trans person ever to be nominated for an Oscar. Last year, transgender musician Antony Hegarty scored a Best Original Song nomination for her J. Ralph collaboration “Manta Ray,” from the endangered species documentary Racing Extinction.
The Academy Award’s 2017 Best Original Song category became possibly the queerest of any category in Oscar history with gay crooner Sam Smith’s Spectre theme also competing against bisexual Lady Gaga’s showtune-ish ballad from campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground.
The 2018 Academy Award nominations also include another transgender entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category with the Chilean/German co-production, A Fantastic Woman, a film about a trans woman who faces transphobia while mourning her lover’s death.
Featured image via Netflix