Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Ava DuVernay’s Mass Incarceration Doc ‘The 13th’ to Open New York Film Festival

Director Ava DuVernay attends a cocktail reception for "Queen Sugar" at Liberty Kitchen on July 2, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Director Ava DuVernay attends a cocktail reception for “Queen Sugar” at Liberty Kitchen on July 2, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

*Ava DuVernay’s new documentary “The 13th” has been chosen to open the New York Film Festival, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The film traces the horrors of mass incarceration and the prison industry in the U.S, as well as how the U.S. has produced the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with the majority of those imprisoned being African-American.

Its title refers to the Constitution’s 13th Amendment: “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 film also explores the pattern of fear and division behind mass criminalization, beginning with D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915) and moving through the rebirth of the KKK to the Civil Rights Movement, the 1994 Crime Bill, the rise of ALEC, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

The opening night slot for “The 13th” marks the first time the festival will open with a nonfiction work, according to organizers at The Film Society of Lincoln Center.

“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,” said Kent Jones, New York Film Festival Director and selection committee chair. “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.”

Following its NY Film Festival premiere Sept. 30 at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, the doc will then debut on Netflix and open in a limited theatrical run on Oct. 7.

The 54th annual New York Film Festival runs Sept. 30 through Oct. 16.

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