The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) named Ava DuVernay’s Oscar nominated mass incarceration documentary 13th Best Documentary.

13th traces the history from the US constitution’s 13th amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, to 2016, where one-in-three black American males can expect to be imprisoned during his lifetime.  It explores racial imbalances in the criminal justice system, and features appearances from author Michelle Alexander, activist Angela Davis, and Senator Cory Booker, among others.  At it’s core, this powerful film charts the path that shows the audience how history has been repeating itself from the Jim Crow era to the present.

The award was the first BAFTA win for Netflix, and in three out of the last four years, the winner for Best Documentary at the BAFTAs won the Oscar for Best Documentary.  This is a very good sign for the eye-opening and ground breaking documentary.

The film, which premiered theatrically and on Netflix streaming earlier this year, became the first documentary in history to open the New York Film Festival in October, and has already won Critics Choice Documentary Awards for Best Director, Best Documentary Feature (in the TV/Streaming category), and Best Political Documentary, and has been nominated for a 2017 Spirit Award.

In addition to DuVernay, Viola Davis took home the Best Supporting Actress award for her role in Fences, and as usual, her acceptance speech motivated the entire room:

“When [my father] took his last breath, one of the most devastating things that went through my mind is: ‘did his life matter?’ August [Wilson, writer of Fences] answers that question so brilliantly, because what he did is he said that our lives mattered as African Americans. The horse groomer, the sanitation worker, the people who grew up under the heavy boot of Jim Crow, the people who did not make it into history books, but they have a story; and those stories deserve to be told, because they lived.”

Congrats to Ava DuVernay and Viola Davis!





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The HBR Media Team is a collective group of black women filmmakers, writers, and studio/network executives who are passionate about bringing visibility to women of African descent working in film and television.

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