The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced that documentary The 13th, the first film from Ava DuVernay since Selma, will open the 2016 New York Film Festival on Sept. 30.
The first non-fiction film to ever open the festival, The 13th explores incarceration in the U.S., which holds five percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of all prisoners, the majority of whom are African American. The film’s title refers to the 13th Amendment of 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 … ”
DuVernay lays out the history of racism and mass criminalization, hitting key points like D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915), the rebirth of the KKK, Civil Rights Movement, the 1994 Crime Bill, the rise of ALEC, and the Black Lives Matter movement. She has compiled testimonies and archival footage from powerful voices on the subject, including Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson, Van Jones, Newt Gingrich, Angela Davis, Senator Cory Booker, Grover Norquist, Khalil Muhammad, Craig DeRoche, Shaka Senghor, Malkia Cyril and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., to name a few.
“It is a true honor for me and my collaborators to premiere The 13th as the opening night selection of the New York Film Festival,” said DuVernay. “This 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.”
After premiering at the 54th annual New York Film Festival on Sept. 30, The 13th will be released on Netflix on Oct. 7, as well as in select theaters for a limited run. It follows acclaimed films like Pulp Fiction (1994), Mystic River (2003), Life of Pi (2012) and last year’s The Walk in opening the NYFF. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Sept. 11 and can be purchased here.