13th– The documentary by Ava Duvernay about the prison industrial complex, has won Best Documentary at the Baftas. 13th beat competition from The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, The Eagle Huntress, Notes on Blindness and Weiner. However, at the Oscars(Academy Awards) it will face stiff competition from I Am Not Your Negro– The Documentary about James Baldwin’s last unfinished book.
Although, Ava DuVernay’s 13th can be simply summarized as about prison industrial complex. It actually explains why there are so many Black people in prison and the political strategies and policies that got them there, is exceptionally informative and interesting. It is groundbreaking in its portrayal of an issue that has often only been spoken about in powerpoint style youtube videos. 13ths legitimizes and brings to the masses the belief and opinion many Black people already held and knew. The belief that slavery never ended it merely took on a new form through mass incarceration.
13th will most likely win the Oscar as well. No doubt this will be due to its quality and also its notoriety from being a Netflix documentary. Whereas, I am not your Negro is being screened at cinemas(niche ones). Moreover, I am not your negro is going to be a far more ‘controversial’ documentary as 13th commentator on America race relations is great but is an indictment of the ‘system’. Whereas, I am not your Negro speaks directly to and at American and especially White American society and their history of race relations, racist attacks and subjugation of Black Americans.
In truth, 13th is the far more easily digestible documentary out of the two. It is more fact than opinion. Whereas, although fact base a lot of commentary on ‘racism’ is analysis and opinion. Therefore, the opinions of James Baldwin will be far harder for the average viewer to digest. Especially those with little knowledge of the civil rights era or his brilliant writings. However, I think history will judge the two and see that I Am Not Your Negro was the better out of the two great documentaries.
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