Ava Duvernay will debut a documentary on mass incarceration at the 2016 New York Film Festival. The film will be the first time in 50 years that the festival has debuted a non fiction project of any kind. The project is titled "The 13th" after the 13th amendment, a law put in place to abolish slavery in the United States.
According to the New York Times, in “The 13th,” Ms. DuVernay weaves together footage of the civil rights movement, the Ku Klux Klan and Black Lives Matter activists, and interviews with figures as varied as the Republican and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the political commentator and activist Van Jones, and Michelle Alexander, the author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” (2010).
“A certain part of our population has been demonized for the benefit of private industry and politicians, and a lot of forces that have nothing to do with, quote, ‘keeping people safe,’” Ms. DuVernay said in a phone interview. “Once you know why we’re here and how we got here, we’re on more solid footing to walk ourselves out of this deep valley that we found ourselves in. That’s the hope.”
According to a 2015 article by the Washington Post, the United States accounts for only 4.4 % of the world's population but nearly 25% of the world's prison population. Duvernay's documentary will hopefully reinforce this data to an audience that might not normally be exposed to this type of information.
“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. I thank Kent Jones and the selection committee for inviting me to share what I’ve learned.”
"The 13th" will make its debut on the opening night of the 54th annual New York Film Festival on September 30th. The festival is set to run from September 30th-October 16th. It is also scheduled to premiere on Netflix on October 7th and appear in select theaters around the country.