Ava DuVernay’s documentary The 13th is the Opening Night selection of the 54th annual New York Film Festival. The festival take place September 30 – October 16 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The 13th is the first documentary to open the NYFF. It will then debut on Netflix and open in a limited theatrical run on October 7th.
Chronicling the history of racial inequality in the United States, The 13th examines how our country has produced the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with the majority of those imprisoned being African-American. The title of DuVernay’s extraordinary and galvanizing film refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution—“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States . . . ” The progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass incarceration and the prison industry in the U.S. is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity.