I say currently, I watched this last week, but it’s obviously still with me now.
13th, directed by Ava DuVernay (of Selma-directing brilliance) is a powerful, intense and emotional documentary that manages to get you angry and move you to action without draining you. The information is presented in simple terms, explained by experts and eyewitnesses whilst the numbers slowly tick by, in blacks, reds and greys, setting the tone for the film: one of complexity and violence. The film is named after the 13th amendment to the US Constitution that declares the end of slavery unless a crime has been committed. This loophole leads to the high, high numbers of incarceration of black people and the perpetuating of a narrative that regards black men as violent and dangerous criminals. Racism is entrenched in the US’s political system and this film makes a clear case for that whilst also avoiding too much hopelessness.
My explanation is nowhere near as well done as DuVernay’s so I recommend you just stop reading and watch it now if you haven’t done so already. And as soon as I finished, I watched the featurette with DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey which only made me appreciate the film even more. At this time in politics, and in particular the precarious relationships between US politics and media and race, this film is a strong statement, quietly presenting facts and statistics and opinions from both sides in an unbiased way. As a white Scottish woman, I cannot understand what it means to be black in the US but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t learn about it.
The film and the featurette with Oprah are both on Netflix so easily accessible! Also you should follow DuVernay, she’s great! I mean, look at her twitter handle, that’s how you know someone’s good.