Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.
Right now more than ever, Ava DuVernay’s 13th is an extremely important film. It was considered to be an interesting and powerfully executed film when it was released back in 2016 and was even nominated for a Best Documentary Feature at the 89th Academy Awards ceremony.
Sadly though, I never got around to watching it when it was released. Recently, I noticed that a lot of my friends on Letterboxd were watching this movie and were calling it scarily accurate to what is going on in the world right now with the whole Black Lives Matter movement and the discussions of police brutality.
Going in, I had high expectations, but after watching it, I have to admit that they were blown out of the water. 13th is an extremely moving and incredibly thought-provoking documentary that takes us through time starting with the rise of slavery and eventually leading up to the present day.
There’s virtually not a single scene that’s wasted here, either. DuVernay makes sure she packs this movie full with tons of useful information and gives everything a well-crafted argument and brings valid points to the table. Right from the opening scene all the way to the final end credits sequence, it is a film that is hard to take your eyes off of no matter how much you may want to at times due to the harsh truths it presents.
Throughout the running time, we watch various different interviews with several politicians, activists, and political leaders, and they all discuss timely themes such as segregation, police brutality, and the over-crowding of the prison system. As each scene goes by, we learn something new and interesting, but also heartbreaking.
Some of the content that was in this movie was incredibly hard to watch and makes you think about how awful the world can be. It’s a movie that says that we must make a change and do something to make this world a better place, and in a time like this, that message is more relevant than ever before.
13th is a gripping and utterly powerful documentary about the mistreatment of black people, the over-crowding of the prison system, and how we, as a society, can push to make a change for a better future.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Directed by: Ava DuVernay
Distributed by: Netflix
Release Date: October 7, 2016
Running Time: 100 minutes