A reading of one sentence in the 13th Amendment to our Constitution is the foundation of Ava DuVernay's documentary, 13TH. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” And, the "except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted" are the words that form the basis of her well-executed thesis. First, summing up the history of African Americans in the U.S., accompanied by the archival footage, newsreels, documents, and filmed speeches of past leaders, DuVernay declares that today's modern racial injustice is simply an extension of America's past racial behavior... from slavery to convict-leasing to Jim Crow and forward. Then, intercut with the footage, are in-depth conversations with prominent, effective leaders from both the African-American and white communities (academics, social activists, journalists, politicians). Organizing her material into concise, relevant sections, divided by animated titles with rap music on the soundtrack, the director and her team cover every aspect of the current controversial racial issues: moral, sociological, and economic. The film is a fiery indictment of the status quo, and an undisguised appeal to change it.
Starring Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson, Van Jones
Director Ava DuVernay