13th is a documentary directed by Ava DuVernay and the primary focus of this documentary is on race in the United States criminal justice system. The title of this documentary comes from the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution which outlawed slavery unless as punishment for a crime. DuVernay puts across the argument that slavery still exists in the United States today through mass incarceration.
My Knowledge and Expectation of 13th
Documentaries are a genre of film which I don’t usually have the time to watch. However, when I do watch a documentary, I want it to be informative and I want to learn something that I didn’t know before. This was the minimum expectation I had going into 13th, a documentary which has been heavily praised by people I trust and admire both within the film industry and political punditry/commentary. Additionally, considering what has happened recently in the United States, I thought that it was a very timely piece of film-making to watch.
My Thoughts on 13th
I have to say, 13th had a very profound effect on me. While I have learnt about and have some good knowledge about the Civil Rights Movement, this documentary puts the spotlight on an area I knew nothing about in terms of how the political establishment treated African-Americans after the victories of securing equal rights and the right to vote in the 1960s. 13th was a real eye-opener. I gained so much more insight than I already had about the criminal justice system in the United States and DuVernay brilliantly and carefully handles very important and ongoing issues.
In fact, 13th is such a thought-provoking and timely documentary that I believe it is required viewing for everyone, particularly as it will inspire you to be more educated about social and political issues. A part of that is down to how fantastic the interviewees are in addition to how well presented the argument is in this documentary.
Still, the big reason why it is required viewing is that, at times, it is a very distressing and heart-breaking thing to watch, especially when we see footage of police brutality in the modern age. In this sense, 13th is not something that you will forget quickly. You will gain new perspectives about very important issues and it will provoke you and anger you to such an extent that you will be compelled to take a stand against injustice wherever you see it.
Coincidentally, I fear that with the current political leadership in the United States, injustice, hate and prejudice will be prevalent and we need to be ready to fight them. 13th can be a catalyst for that fight.