A documentary director from Long Island made Oscars history Tuesday by becoming the first openly transgender filmmaker nominated for an Academy Award.
Yance Ford's "Strong Island" was nominated for Best Documentary Feature Tuesday morning. In his directorial debut, Ford focuses on the death of his brother, William Ford, who was shot and killed in 1992.
Speaking to News 4 over Skype Tuesday, Ford said he and his partner were elated when they saw the logo for the film, released on Netflix, during the nominations.
“We must have been hyperventilating so loudly that we didn’t hear Tiffany Haddish and her co-host, but we saw 'Strong Island' on the screen, and as soon as we saw the movie my partner and I lost it,” said Ford.
Just 24 years old at the time, William Ford, who is black, was shot and killed by a white 19-year-old auto body shop employee who claimed it was self-defense. An all-white grand jury did not bring any charges against the defendant.
Twenty-five years later, Ford thinks it is still important to address systematic failures in the justice system.
“There’s very little difference between what is said of victims today who are unarmed and killed by people who are heavily armed, and what was said about my brother 25 years ago,” said Ford.