Documentary Review: 13th


Director: Ava DuVernay

Writers: Spencer Averick, Ava DuVernay

Verdict: Nearly A Masterpiece

I know this isn’t the verdict, but if I had to describe Ava DuVernay’s, (Selma) new documentary 13th in one word it would be: Important.

This straight to Netflix documentary plays like a narrative epic telling a story across generations, à la One Hundred Years of Solitudeabout racism. Where the focus is less a family but more the country of The United States of America. The documentary seeks to like a loophole in the 13th amendment about how prisoners are essentially slaves of the state, to the way black people are treated, depicted, and stereotyped now. This documentary succeeds through well chosen interviewees, a cinematic flair with storytelling, and a strong, well expressed message.

The raw power this documentary holds is unquestionable, no one is denying that, and in the end, whatever else one may say about a documentary that’s what it lives and dies on. That being said the reason the message comes across so strongly in the documentary is through the quality of the film-making. DuVernay  takes her narrative drama experience and supplants it in a documentary to make an argument completely coherently. The only problem is that in her vitriol she can occasionally get off topic. That being said, 13th is a powerful, worthy entry that doesn’t pull any punches and I think everyone should see. 


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