Today, the Film Society of Lincoln Center announces that Ava DuVernay’s documentary ‘The 13th’ will open the 54th annual New York Film Festival in September. It will be the first-ever nonfiction work to open the festival. 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. From the rebirth of the KKK to the Black Lives Matter movement, DuVernay traces the history of racism in the U.S. and how such fear and division facilitate a system that drives such mass criminalization. Using a mix of archival footage and testimonies from politicians, activists, and formerly incarcerated men and women, DuVernay creates an untold history for the world to watch.
NYFF director Kent Jones says, “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.”
Meanwhile, DuVernay says that “The 13th” 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 New York Film Festival runs from September 30th through October 16th. Tickets go on sale on September 11th. “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 week’s episode of FSLC’s weekly podcast The Close-Up.