THE BIRTH OF A NATION and 13TH
Call it a coincidence, a stratagem, a not-entirely-accidental feat of synchronized scheduling, or, for conspiracy theorists, a deliberate act of Hollywood-liberal aggression intended for political gain and societal upheaval. But whatever you call it, this past Friday not only saw the nationwide release of writer/director/star Nate Parker’s historical slave-revolt drama The Birth of a Nation, but also the Netflix debut of 13th, Selma director Ava DuVernay’s documentary on the escalating incarceration, and “lawful” killing, of African-American men. Both films boast many moments of startling clarity and power. Both films, as you might expect, explicitly state that black lives matter. But one of them also argues, to its occasional detriment, that one particular life may have mattered more than others.