Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Film Review: 13th, Directed by Ava DuVernay

I had heard about the documentary 13th before. I think I'd seen the Netflix ads for it when it was released, and I added it to my queue because it sounded like something I wanted to watch. Still, I hadn't yet gotten around to watch it when the documentary showed up on the Activist Advent calendar that I'd been following.

With their recommendation, I took the plunge and watched it the next day, and I don't regret it a single bit. 13th is spectacular and something that is very much needed now.

13th is about modern racism, but it roots modern racism very firmly in the past. The documentary explains how the racist systems of the past have morphed into the modern justice system. It explains how the police brutality today is just a continuation of the brutality of earlier years. The film never abandons the past to talk solely about the present because it recognizes that the two can't be disconnected from one another.

Really my biggest praise of the documentary comes from how thoroughly it discussed how everything is connected. It discusses how prisons and police brutality are connected. It discusses all of the reasons for America's overpopulation of prisons. It discusses why all of these problems have led to Black Lives Matter. It's a very thorough documentary that covers all of its bases and covers them well.

One of my favorite moments of the documentary came when one of the interviewees was describing conversations he had had with people where those people went on about how they couldn't believe people had once allowed slavery and then segregation to happen. These people said they never would have allowed that had they been alive back then, and then the interviewee states that we currently are allowing those same things to happen because we don't stop to think about what's actually happening. It was a powerful moment and one that captures perfectly why this documentary is an important one to watch.

I would highly recommend this documentary to everyone. It's on a topic that is as relevant today as it always has been.

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