'13th' - Joe's Take
Updated: Oct 8, 2020
2016 | 15+ | 100 Mins | Dir: Ava DuVernay
An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nations history of radical inequality.
As 13th spans through generations of systematic oppression, institutionalised racism and injustice in America, DuVernay is consistently encouraging you to compare the horror of the past with the following period in American history. This continues and builds on the unsettling truth as we get closer and closer towards the modern day hoping for some feeling of resolution… and then the film ends. Ultimately leaving you feeling empty about the world you live in.
Whilst the discussion itself is essential, there is an amazing, bold and assertive style that demands your attention throughout. The experimentation here continues to hit you from all angles. Whether it be the use of animated lyrics relevant to each era, the choice of worn industrial interviewee settings or a standout sequence in which the audio of Trump condoning violence at a political rally is cut against distressing historical footage of black protestors being attacked. DuVerney uses these choices to great effect so that regardless of your level of your understanding upon putting the film on, you will leave it knowing that more needs to be done.
Worthy of its praise, a sadly relevant film that encourages discussion.
BEST QUOTE: "We are the products of the history that our ancestors chose, if we’re white. If we are black, we are products of the history that our ancestors most likely did not chose.”
FUN FACT: The filming locations and production design of the interviews, with brick walls and industrial equipment, represent labor that, according to DuVernay, "has been stolen from black people in this country for centuries."
IF YOU LIKED: I Am Not Your Negro, TIME: The Kalief Browder Story, When They See Us