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1. The 13th by Ava DuVernay is one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever watched. DuVernay has established herself as a powerful force and voice in Hollywood, she also directed the Oscar nominated Selma.
Nominated for an Oscar in 2016, the 13th explored racial injustice in mass incarceration in the United States.
The title comes from the 13th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution that abolished slavery. DuVernay poses an important question through the documentary, blacks have been set free by law, but as the justice system still works against us because of our skin color today, are we really free? Do we receive all freedoms and rights that are awarded to every other citizen? What does that mean for black men in our country? What is the possibility of a stable life after being in prison?
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She also makes note of corporations making money from the prison system, and opens discussion about the Republicans “war on drugs” that just applied to minorities.
The 13th premiered on Netflix in September 2016. You can check out the trailer here.
2. What Happened, Miss Simone ? is the biographical documentary about Nina Simone’s life. I believe Liz Garbus (the director) did her best to encompass Nina’s personality, and true talent as an artist. While it did chart the highs and lows of Nina’s career it still payed homage to a legendary voice. The executive producer is actually Nina Simone’s daughter, it received praise from Simone’s friends and family, and eventually received an Academy Award nomination.
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It premiered on Netflix in June 2015. For the trailer click here.
3. I Am Not Your Negro, is the film version of the unfinished James Baldwin’s novel Remember This House. Baldwin was a civil rights activist, and the center for Raoul Peck’s documentary early this year. In the film, Baldwin examines races relations as a whole in America and things that may or may not still be obstacles for minorities in the future. Samuel L. Jackson provides narration for the film as well.
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The film premiered in February of 2017, for the trailer, click here!
4. OJ Made in America, was produced and directed by Ezra Edelman initially for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. As one of America’s most controversial cases in history, this documentary shows the depth of skepticism of our legal system. Whether you believe OJ was guilty or not, the 5 part series sucks you in 22 years after the trial.
Documenting the life of OJ Simpson, it explores race and his celebrity and what that meant to the charges in question. I liked this documentary more so because it was informative, and mostly now you just here the bashing of OJ Simpson. Can no one believe a black man did not commit the crime? A very good question indeed.
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It premiered June 11, 2016 on ESPN, to check out the trailer click here.
5. The White Helmets was kind of a sad documentary, but still very well worth the watch. The Oscar winning film took a look at Syria’s war turmoil and the volunteers who search for survivors among the war wreckage. After a five year war, 400,000 Syrians have died and millions have fled home for a better life. This powerful film puts you in the life of someone of a different race, and someone who cares about actually going above and beyond to save strangers no matter what they look like or believe.
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The White Helmets premiered on Netflix in September 2016. For the trailer click here.