If you haven’t seen the Netflix documentary 13th, you should. It’s about more than just mass incarceration: director Ava DuVernay (Selma) makes a powerful comparison between America’s prison system and slavery, while offering one of the most succinct and clear explanations of why Black Lives Matter and the current election matters. In one of the most powerful sequences, DuVernay puts the spotlight squarely on Donald Trump.
The Republican nominee for president has come under fire for one thing or another since he first began his campaign, but one of the larger issues is his hostile words, which often times incite his supporters to violence. To address the larger repercussions of this kind of political and cultural environment, 13th cuts between footage from these aggressive Trump rallies with archival footage from the Civil Rights era.
The result is a sequence so powerful that even DuVernay couldn’t help but tear up while watching, as she told reporters during a press conference at the New York Film Festival. Regardless of your stance on Trump, you should watch the clip below. If you’re so confidant in your ideals, then one little clip shouldn’t sway you.
During my interview with DuVernay, the filmmaker said:
“When I first started [the documentary], I wasn’t thinking anything about the elections. But around April or so when the candidates started to solidify, who was gonna be each party’s candidate, I thought, ‘We should probably get this out now.’ So then in the spring we started to kind of put it into overdrive and really push to make sure that it was out by fall. I mean, we made the cut off because I said, ‘Look, if it’s anything less than a month before the elections, I don’t think it’s gonna be effective.’ Who knows if it’s gonna be effective at all. I just want people to have a conversation and interrogate and put the candidates for answers on these issues. If it’s us in a month, it’s not gonna work. Literally, we open October 7th, the election’s on November [8th]. It’s an exact month. That’s how tight it was to get it done. We were still working on the film 10 days ago.”
It’s unclear whether 13th has made a real impact on America, but it points fingers at issues that must be discussed. At the very least, hopefully it’ll get people talking about them. At the most, hopefully it’ll impress upon us all the importance of our vote.
13th is available to watch now on Netflix.