You haven’t seen the end of this one.

Documentaries are perhaps the more particular films to review for me. They have storytelling with a plot and a flow. They have cinematography and music. I found myself able to review only the presentation choices, since the subject is true and the performances are testimonials. There is a risk of misrepresenting someone or character assassination when it is a biopic, but in my case what I want to see is how engaging and interesting you can present your case. This is not an easy subject to make engaging, it is uncomfortable to watch. For me, it was impossible to stop watching.

(Credit: Netflix)

13th (2016) was directed by Ava DuVernay who co-wrote it with Spencer Averick. It spans many decades from the time where slavery was declared illegal until more current times. It concerns itself with the way the thirteenth amendment of the United States constitution, which abolishes slavery allows for one exception: being convicted of a crime. The movie states that exception has been exploited as a loophole against the entire race of black people to make them slaves of the state through mass incarceration.

Yes, I decided to watch and review this documentary film because of the Black Lives Matter movement. The arguments are well presented. The testimonials are calm but firm. Some figures of history are framed in both positive and negative lights through their political decisions and soundbites of their public speeches. And yes, it is extremely convincing to see the way that manipulation of the public to demonize the image of the black male as a criminal has been used as a political device to get people elected – by both sides. A lot of facts presented are evidence to this conclusion. The rest are well-thought logical arguments.

Opinions are obviously presented as well. Here’s the caveat, the opinions are usually on whether certain laws, regulations and business practices were intended to hurt the lives of African-Americans or whether they were just misused from their original intention. You can hardly deny that they have been found to repress and exploit black people as well as latinos, asians and essentially all minorities. A lot of things that look good on paper are enforced with a completely different intention. At the end of the day it is the actual actions that are concerning.

Highly recommended as both educational and inspirational. It does have a bias throughout: dispel you of the notion that abolishing slavery was the end of the nightmare for an entire race of people. To do that it educates you on the different permutations in which systemic racism has remained pervasive across time and the detriment it has caused. Despite the uncomfortable truths, the film keeps your interest as things come to light from the past and explains how the future could still hold racial injustice if things only change in the surface. Appropriately so, the documentary ends at some point without a conclusion. Putting a hint of hope at the end would have been a huge disservice. The ending is yet to be seen.

That will do for now.