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Five powerful documentaries about racial injustice you need to watch this weekend.

Documentaries have long been a powerful tool when it comes to storytelling, particularly when they are able to shine a light on historical moments that have previously gone unexamined.

From documentary offerings that chronicle to the representation of Black people in Hollywood to films that include previously unseen footage of police brutality, here are five powerful documentaries about racial injustice you need to watch this weekend.

13th

13th is a documentary from filmmaker Ava DuVernay and is a brilliant investigation into how the Thirteenth Amendment led to mass incarceration in the United States.

The documentary, which features a number of activists, academics and political figures, including Angela Davis, Bryan Stevenson, Van Jones and Newt Gingrich, traces the history of racial inequality in the United States. 13th focuses on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans and educates viewers on why the system continues to work this way.

13th was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 89th Academy Awards and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Watch it on Netflix.

The Australian Dream

This documentary explores race and identity in Australia, focusing on the story of Indigenous AFL player Adam Goodes.

The Australian Dream takes viewers through the racial abuse Adam suffered while playing and the public backlash against him that occurred after he spoke out about racism in Australia.

Using archival footage as well as interviews with a range of Australians including Eddie McGuire, Natalie Goodes, Nova Peris and Andrew Bolt, the feature-length documentary shines a light on how the idea of the “Australian Dream” is really rooted in racism.

The Australian Dream won the AACTA Award for Best Feature Documentary in 2019 and is important viewing for all Australians.

Watch it on iView.

To hear about Hollywood’s reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement, listen to The Spill. 

I Am Not Your Negro

This documentary, which is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, is inspired by Black author and activist James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript Remember This House.

I Am Not Your Negro is based on the collection of notes and letters written by Baldwin in the mid-1970s that recount the lives of his close friends and civil rights leaders Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers.

The critically acclaimed documentary connects the civil rights movement to the Black Lives Matter movement and questions the representation of Black people in Hollywood, in society and in the arts.

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Watch it on Stan.

LA 92

LA 92 is a documentary about the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which took place after a jury acquitted four officers from the Los Angeles Police Department of the use of excessive force in the arrest and beating of Rodney King. The arrest had been videotaped and was widely viewed and condemned across the country.

The documentary, which won the Primetime Emmy Award for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking, contains previously unseen footage to retell the story of the 1992 trial and the events that followed.

Watch it on Netflix.

They’ve Gotta Have Us

This three-part documentary series explores the history of Black cinema through in-depth interviews with Black actors, directors, and creators across three generations, along with extensive archival footage.

Created by photographer and artist Simon Frederick, They’ve Gotta Have Us includes interviews with everyone from Laurence Fishburne, Barry Jenkins, Whoopi Goldberg, Debbie Allen and Harry Belafonte to John Boyega and Nathalie Emmanuel.

Watch it on Netflix.

If you have the means to do so, you can actively help the Black Lives Matter cause in Australia and the United States by donating to organisations working towards racial justice, such as the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance and the Justice for David Dungay Fund to support the family of David Dungay Junior, an Aboriginal man who died in a Sydney jail.

You can also donate to the Black Lives Matter Global Network here. If you can, consider regularly donating to Indigenous-run organisations and First Nations causes.

Other active ways to help include signing petitions, attending peaceful protests, listening to BIPOC, raising their voices, educating yourself on racism and privilege and ensuring we are all taking part in the conversation to dismantle systemic racism.

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