‘Ali Smith writes about memory and truth and belief and delusion and nature and protest and distance and disbelief and lies and the possibility at once for both hope and sadness.’ These are the notes I scrawled into my notebook in a coffee shop on Saturday morning. I was up early for a rubbish reason and had carried Winter around with me in my bag all week yet barely started it. I left later on having read it furiously to the end.
Let me start by saying that I am a big Ali Smith fan. If you met me at any point during my final year of university, you probably saw the anguish on my face as I told you about how badly my dissertation was doing or fell asleep as I raved on about Hotel World and There but for the.
I’m late to the party, and yes, this is another post about something people have already raved about. But I finally saw it on Sunday and had to talk about it. Get Out is a tense horror grounded in the real world but managing to balance realism with hypnotism, brain transplantation and ‘the sunken place’.
I finished Nasty Women on the train to meet my family for a day out and on the way back, my sister complained about always being bored on trains. I handed her Nasty Women and told her to read it. She read the first four essays on the train and asked me what intersectional feminism was so I count that as a supreme success.
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.