13th (USA, 2016)

the-13th-posterDirected by: Ava DuVernay. Having skipped Selma, writing it off as another weepy “great-man-theory” Oscar buzz movie, but I did not know at that time that the movie was directed by an African American woman, and that she would become the first African American woman with a film to be nominated for best picture at the Oscars. I still haven’t seen that film (and honestly, I’m still pretty sure it’s a weepy “great-man” biopic) but when I saw an article about this film, I was immediately curious. The fact that in her position, Ava DuVernay chose to take the blank check that Netflix gave her and make a documentary about modern mass incarceration and its integral relation to the legacy of systemic racism, is a pretty amazing thing. Really, first film is a Hollywood biopic drowning in establishment awards and accolades, and second film is a documentary about racism and the corruption of the criminal justice system? That fucking rules. I have mixed opinions about political documentaries, because a lot of the time they’re on-the-nose, bludgeoning propaganda pieces that preach to a carefully selected choir. In this case, I found the film to be an incredibly educational 2 hours, and I consider this essential viewing, especially for white folks. What tips this one over the edge for me in terms of quality was the breadth of voices she was able to secure for interviews. In additional to a whole host of black educators, politicians and academics, she got Newt fucking Gingrich to speak in this thing. Are you impressed yet?

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2 responses to “13th (USA, 2016)

  1. Pingback: The Birth of a Nation (USA, 1915) | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2016 | Offhand Reviews·

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