The 13th Amendment to The United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. It created a protected right for citizens to be free from bondage. But, a loophole allows suppression of this right for criminals who are being punished following a conviction. This 14-word phrase charted a path for the American prison-industrial complex. 13th, a documentary by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, explores the history of institutional racism through the lens of the 13th Amendment.
Django Unchained is a movie set two years before the Civil War that tells the story of a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx). Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), seeks out Django’s help with identifying and hunting down a group of wanted criminals. In exchange, Schultz promises Django his freedom and the opportunity to save his wife from bondage.
Selma provides a snapshot of the efforts to end systematic suppression of Black voting and other civil rights in the South. The film focuses on the SCLC and SNCC organized Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965. It also takes a close look at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s (David Oyelowo) lobbying meetings with President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson).
What Happened, Miss Simone? is an award-winning Netflix documentary about the life and career of Nina Simone. I recommend the documentary as an introduction to the life and music of Nina Simone. There might not be a lot of new info for people who are already fans. But, it might still be worth checking out just to hear Simone speak about herself and her career in her own words.
Bessie is an HBO film starring Queen Latifah in an excellent portrayal of 1920’s blues legend Bessie Smith. The movie covers Bessie’s rise, fall, and comeback during the 1920’s — 1930’s with brief peeks back into her childhood. The movie is quite good due to the great performances and cinematography but the story itself is a bit lacking. It isn’t perfect but it’s still enjoyable and worth seeing. I recommend Bessie if you’re into music, a fan of any of the actors, or you’re just looking for a good movie to watch.