This year’s New York Film Festival will open with a sobering reminder of the current state of race relations in the United States, as the 54th incarnation of the prestigious festival has eschewed a fancy, splashy, feel-good opener in exchange for debuting Ava DuVernay’s latest feature, a documentary entitled “The 13th.”
Named for the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, “the film chronicles the history of racial inequality in the United States, examining how our country has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with the majority of prisoners being African-American.” The filmmaker has said that the film was made “as an answer to my own questions about how and why we have become the most incarcerated nation in the world, how and why we regard some of our citizens as innately criminal, and how and why good people allow this injustice to happen generation after generation.”
The film is the first-ever nonfiction work to open the festival. Of the pick, NYFF director Kent Jones said, “While I was watching ‘The 13th,’ the distinction between documentary and fiction gave way and I felt like I was experiencing something so rare: direct contact between the artist and right now, this very moment. In fact, Ava is actually trying to redefine the terms on which we discuss where we’re at, how we got here, and where we’re going. ‘The 13th’ is a great film. It’s also an act of true patriotism.”
Check out the first trailer for “The 13th” below. The New York Film Festival runs from September 30 – October 16. Tickets are on sale now.
“The 13th” will debut on Netflix and open in a limited theatrical run on October 7. If you want to hear DuVernay go in depth about why she made the film, check out this episode of FSLC’s weekly podcast The Close-Up.