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Documentary Review: “13th” (2016) ★★★★★


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It is easy to approach a mentally ill person when the individual is aware of his disease and tries to cooperate with anyone who tries to cure him, even though certain illnesses may not be curable. But as long as that particular person knows about the issues he or she has, there is hope. After watching Ava DuVernay’s year’s most brilliant, provoking and brutally honest documentary film, you can see that the United States has some mental issues. But the good news is, it does not deny it. But can that acceptance be considered as a positive movement? Perhaps yes. Perhaps not. But I am certain of one thing – one day somebody will be able to find the medicine to cure racism in the US as long there are people who will continue bringing this issue up…

13th follows USA’s XXIII Amendment, when the black people of a free land turned from slavery into criminal activities. As per the Thirteenth Amendment (Amendment XIII) to the United States Constitution, slavery and involuntary servitude was abolished, except, of course, as punishment of crime. Thus the United States became home to 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s prisoners. More importantly, throughout the film you will learn how prisons became the most profitable business where those who had no money or big uncles to save them, end up behind the bar to serve as a slave labor.

It appears that despite slavery being officially ended back in 1960s, the government and big corporation comes up with better idea to clean up the streets from “colored” people. The black community soon finds itself under pressure when their loved ones were sent to prison for at least six years for a crime that a white person would have been pardoned for. In the meantime, through archival footages and of course D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, the viewer will be reminded once again about the image of black people that was created back then which is still present at some point here, but has not been actively spoken as we all wish it had been.

However, with the significant amount of time as the story unfolds in 13th, you will see the officially legalized but undeclared war against non-white people in US is real. But even that may not unfortunately surprise any of you, it’s the fact of having prisons overpopulated by black people for the sake of removing them from the streets is truly terrifying. It also reveals through constant interviews that in a country like the United States prisons exist not to correct the prisoners and show them life they could have had outside of it, but to make their existence even worse – because it is now more like a business, where more prisoners means more money.

In conclusion, 13th is the film that is not afraid of talking about racial issues. It speaks as loud as it could. It delivers a message; it educates; it shows that history has never changed, but if it did, it was only for the worse. However, one thing this film did not point out is that slavery nowadays has improved significantly. It now affects not only the black, but white people as well. We just don’t know about them. We do not hear their stories. But second class citizens do not exist only in the United States, it exists in many other well developed countries. But to make the issue global, not only the United States alone, everybody must step forward and solve the racial issue for good. Until that happens, if it ever happens, lets get back to watching 13th once again, as a shocking effect that I am sure may then can change the most skeptical mind and hope that one day we will never have to talk about slavery, racism, and overpopulation of prisons ever again.

 

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About Ulkar Alakbarova (933 Articles)
My name is Ulkar Alakbarova. A wonderful name, is it not? I come from the exotic land of Azerbaijan but now I live in the hub of Hollywood North – Toronto, Canada. How lucky I am to be able to enjoy and indulge in my favourite avocation of watching movies. Movies of every genre are screened here in Toronto. There are black and white classics, avant garde, independently produced, and of course, newly released movies for all to enjoy. Let me share this treasure of entertainment with you. Read my thoughts and opinions then let me know if you agree.

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