The 13th

The 13th

Ava DuVernay (2016)

99min
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Review

Our Score
Ava DuVernay, director of the acclaimed Civil Rights era drama Selma, offers a broader history of racial oppression in this documentary. It's titled after the US constitution's 13th Amendment, where the abolition of slavery, in a significant sub-clause, did not apply to those convicted of a crime - so, a black person could be dumped back into slavery if they were accused of even a minor offence, like vagrancy. Using archive clips, plus interviews with academics, politicians and former prisoners, DuVernay's film briskly surveys how the statutory victories of '60s protesters generated a response from subsequent Washington administrations where, under the guise of wars on crime and drugs, a wave of mass incarceration impacted most deeply on poor black communities. With the effective militarisation of law enforcement, we arrive at the current crisis of police shootings. The film sees the advent of smartphone video and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement as a positive move. A partisan view, perhaps, but the film's argument is strong, articulately expressed, and backed up by truly disturbing images of injustices past and present.

Cast & Crew

Director Ava DuVernay

Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: DogwoofGuidance: Violence, racist languageAvailable on: DVDReleased on: 7 Oct 2016