Ava DuVernay’s new Netflix documentary 13th takes a hard, intellectual look at how racism and mass incarceration are intertwined throughout the United States’s history.
“The final act of our picture is all about Black Lives Matter, not as some kind of dutiful, ‘Oh it’s the present moment, we should do something.’ Every line, every frame of this film leads you to that place. Leads you to the now, leads you to the movement,” DuVerney tells The Atlantic. “The whole film is a virtual tour through racism. We’re giving you 150 years of oppression in 100 minutes. The film was 150 years in the making. Really, it’s to give context to the current moment. The current moment of mass criminalization, of incarceration as an industry, prison as profit, punishment as profit. And the current moment of the declaration that the lives of black people, our very breath, our very dignity, our very humanity, are valuable and matter to the world. The film is designed to get us to that point, and those three words are more than words. They are the very blood that runs within us.”
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