Oscars 2018: ‘Strong Island’ makes history with transgender director

The 90th Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday, and “Strong Island” made history for its transgender director.

The Academy Awards will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel March 4 on ABC.


Yance Ford of “Strong Island” became the first transgender director to be nominated for an Oscar.

“Everybody out there should know that there is a generation of trans directors who are coming for their Oscars,” Ford told Entertainment Weekly Tuesday after his film received a nod for Best Documentary Feature. “So this might be the first, but it certainly won’t be the last.”

“Strong Island,” Ford’s first feature-length film, is a documentary about the death of his brother, William Ford, a high school teacher fatally shot April 7, 1992, by a white mechanic on Long Island, New York.

“The very exciting thing for me when I think about history is that this film is a correction to the historical record of my brother’s life,” Ford told EW, “and if this nomination helps to magnify that and if by making history I helped to magnify that, then… it’s all good as far as I’m concerned.”

‘Strong Island” made Oscar history as the first documentary from a transgender director. Photo: Netflix.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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