13TH – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Ava DuVernay’s incisive and shocking documentary 13th hit like a body blow when she first unveiled it in the autumn 2016 film festivals. (The very existence of the project came to light only when the New York Film Festival announced in July that year that this movie would open its program in September; I first saw it that October at London Film Festival.) Donald Trump had not yet been “elected” President of the United States, but already, the shock of him ascending to the status of Republican nominee was unsettling. Many Americans were already terrified of what his rise boded for the future on numerous fronts, not least the open racism of American society, which would surely only get, seemingly impossibly, even worse.

Fast forward to *checks watch* now, and this is a brutal and necessary watch. A virus pandemic is disproportionately impacting people of color, and then comes yet more homicidal police violence against Black Americans: George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are but the latest in a very long line, many of whom have in recent years had their abuse and deaths caught on smartphone video and shared online for all to see in ways that hadn’t previously been as visible or obvious, at least to white Americans. There have been lots of protests over similar deaths of Black Americans before — the shooting of Michael Brown by a cop in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, and the unrest that followed, seems to have been the prompt for DuVernay to make 13th, in fact. Continue reading…

EDITOR’S NOTE: 13th is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for January 20, 2017

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at FlickFilosopher.com, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her AWFJ.org archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).