67 user 91 critic

13th (2016)

2:15 | Trailer
An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation's history of racial inequality.


Ava DuVernay
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 31 wins & 44 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Melina Abdullah Melina Abdullah ... Herself - Interviewee
Michelle Alexander ... Herself - Interviewee
Cory Booker ... Himself - Interviewee
Dolores Canales Dolores Canales ... Herself - Interviewee
Gina Clayton Gina Clayton ... Herself - Interviewee
Jelani Cobb Jelani Cobb ... Himself - Interviewee
Malkia Cyril ... Herself - Interviewee
Angela Davis ... Herself - Interviewee
Craig DeRoche ... Himself - Interviewee
David Dinkins David Dinkins ... Himself - Interviewee
Baz Dreisinger Baz Dreisinger ... Herself - Interviewee
Kevin Gannon Kevin Gannon ... Himself - Interviewee
Henry Louis Gates ... Himself - Interviewee (as Henry Louis Gates Jr.)
Marie Gottschalk Marie Gottschalk ... Herself - Interviewee
Newt Gingrich ... Himself - Interviewee


The film begins with the idea that 25 percent of the people in the world who are incarcerated are incarcerated in the U.S. Although the U.S. has just 5% of the world's population. "13th" charts the explosive growth in America's prison population; in 1970, there were about 200,000 prisoners; today, the prison population is more than 2 million. The documentary touches on chattel slavery; D. W. Griffith's film "The Birth of a Nation"; Emmett Till; the civil rights movement; the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Richard M. Nixon; and Ronald Reagan's declaration of the war on drugs and much more. Written by Ulf Kjell Gür

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-MA | See all certifications »






Release Date:

7 October 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The 13th See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

D-Cinema 48kHz 5.1

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This was the first documentary to ever open the New York Film Festival - the 54th Festival on Friday, September 30th, 2016. See more »


Bryan Stevenson: The Bureau of Justice reported that one in three young black males is expected to go to jail or prison during his lifetime, which is an unbelievably shocking statistic.
See more »


Features 12 Years a Slave (2013) See more »


Written by Karl Jenkins, Tarik Collins, Ahmir-Khalib Thompson (as Ahmir Thompson), Saigon (as Brian Carenard), Khari Mateen, and Jamal Miller
Performed by The Roots featuring Truck North and Saigon
Courtesy of Def Jam Recordings under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

Important documentary
7 October 2016 | by airborne_trooperSee all my reviews

This documentary shines a very bright light on two fundamental issues going on in our country. The power of money and it's influence on profitable incarceration and ultimately perpetual slavery. I think it did a fabulous job of being virtually opinion free and making a point to stay focused on facts. That said, I think you have to be open to the information. By that, whether you lean right or left, it's best to digest this documentary with an open mind free of your own political thoughts and opinions.

It's foundation is about slavery and how it plays a role in modern events. It suggests that slavery never went away, it merely reinvented itself to "keep up with the times", always having financial gain being the catalyst for it's continued existence. It really shines when it presents it's case on how mass incarceration is today's slavery. The direct correlation between labor based slavery of yesteryear and labor based incarceration of today is frightening in regards to similarity. You can deny it if you choose to, but if you continue to do so after seeing this presentation, then it's simply because you deny fact.

When Colin Kaepernick protested the flag, though I'm a black man, I was offended by his stance. After watching this documentary however, I look at his point of view with a different lens. I don't entirely agree with his approach, but I have to admit that oppression in this country is still very alive and well. I think too many people look at oppression in traditional views like slavery and the holocaust. But in my opinion, you have to appreciate oppression as the complexity that it is, in order to acknowledge it's existence. Again this documentary does an excellent job of making that case. I won't delve too deep into why, I would just simply recommend watching it.

Word of caution however. This documentary doesn't pull it's punches. It's very dark, very disconcerting regarding politics and if it hits you right, it will make you angry and sad all at once. My two children stayed in the forefront of my mind while watching this, and my heart bled for them throughout, seeing what kind of world that awaits them. I tried to be optimistic about light being brought to this issue in such a well put together way, but I believe that we as a country, still have a ways to go, seeing that someone like Trump could get so close to being President.

Overall, this documentary is very important and should be seen by everyone able. Whether you lean right or left, you cannot deny some of the dirty deals made by politicians to keep their pockets lined via profitable incarceration. Real change needs to happen without question, but this documentary drives home the point that as long as "the almighty dollar" rules, don't expect much change anytime soon.

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