10 impactful documentaries you should watch on Netflix

5 of 11

13th (2016)

Is there nothing that Ava DuVernay can’t do? Not only has she directed some of the most influential and important films in the last 10 years (Selma, Middle of Nowhere to name a few), she also directed one the most engaging and significant documentaries, possibly ever. 13th gets its title from the 13th amendment to the US constitution that abolished slavery and ended involuntary servitude, except for those incarcerated for a crime.

Even those who have a decent working knowledge of the US prison system (spoiler: I don’t), will certainly discover new and shocking information from watching this film. Presented in a series of interviews with high profile activists such as Angela Davies and Bryan Stevenson and political figures such as Newt Gingrich and Cory Booker,13th pulls apart the entire US prison system and how it interacts with issues of race and class.

13th is frustrating, enraging and overwhelmingly sad all at the same time. DuVernay peppers the film with facts and figures (did you know that the US has the largest incarcerated population in the world?) but these never cloud the main ideas presented within the doc. The facts are a backup to the riveting and sometimes appalling testimony that DuVernay’s interviewees present.

13th is pressing, urgent cinema that needs to be seen by everyone. If you haven’t already, this doc should be at the top of your watch list.