Ava DuVernay's riveting documentary may not be the favorite to take home an Oscar this year, but it has a thoughtful topicality about it, as well as being a valuable education tool that arguably can stimulate much debate like seen in those "Town Hall Meetings".
13th builds much history from the Constitutional Amendment it's named after with a loophole concerning incarceration institutions with alarming statistics regarding America's population in them, particularly black males (from the Bureau of Justice) as the U.S. makes up five percent of the world's population. Not having affluence means a greater chance of not having proper representation as a "prison industrial complex" becomes of a means of widespread profiteering.
The talking heads range from Corey Booker, Van Jones, Angela Davis, David Dinkins, as well as celebrities, former prisoners, not to mention Newt Gingrich; there is current polarizing President Donald Trump reminiscing about the "good old days."
Perspective from Jim Crow laws, chain gangs and the KKK move through the seminal D.W. Griffith film The Birth of a Nation where whites are victims of black abuse that helped the clansmen prosper again in the early 20th Century. Writer, producer, and editor Spencer Averick gives the proceedings much alacrity, polish in his latter role when it comes to the Civil Rights Movement as this period pulses through the Nixon, Reagan and Clinton administrations with various agendas and ramifications from the War on Crime and Drugs as it concerns the black community.
This original fly-on-the-wall dexterous treatment by DuVernay (who excelled in her mid-60s portrait of national strife with MLK in Selma) may have naysayers feeling that the research may not have resulted in enough even-handedness. Yet, it's hard to condone the indictment of racial inequality and a justice system (a generation after Rodney King) that continues to resonate in a Black Lives Matter era where "law and order" have been impacted by more austerity from white officers who presumably feel targeted. Perhaps a lively, impassioned 13th can further the movement to eventually alter the percentages even if slavery has lingered too long after the legislation enacted on January 31st 1865.