Review | 13th (Netflix Documentary)

By Luigi Sibona

Director – Ava DuVernay

13th is an angry and infuriating documentary and one that should be mandatory viewing on curriculums in the U.S.A as well as abroad. Ava DuVernay’s follow up to 2015s majestic Selma takes the 13th amendment of the United States constitution as its ironic thematic touchstone – in which no man can be subject to slavery or involuntary servitude. There are exceptions of course, most notably that if guilty of a crime one is exempt from such protection.

13th charts the years since the abolition of slavery till today, drawing the staggering similarity between the economics of the slave trade and that of the mass incarcerations in the America penile today. The fundamentals of the slave trade were merely theoretically abolished and the term for ‘slave’ changed to ‘criminal’.

DuVernay puts across the argument with a rock-solid will and in the sweeping and powerful story of race she finds a sensibility for the personal stories that make up the histories. The use of music also deserves mention pulling you through the generational leaps with a sense of cultural relativity.

There’s something that feels even more relevant about 13th as America hangs in the balance of a possibly seismic and terrifying regression. 13th is an important film showing just how far we haven’t come and the lengths that certain sectors of the establishment will go to keep it that way. Watch it. Get angry. Get involved. 



This is a surf, music & lifestyle website based in Newquay, Cornwall.

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