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One in four people behind bars are in American prisons. The land of the free. That’s the kind of shocking fact you can expect to find in The 13th – along with all the provocative questions that raises.
Ava DuVernay’s documentary, which takes its name from the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (the abolition of slavery), charts the progression from that second qualifying clause to mass criminalisation and the sprawling American prison industry. And judging by this trailer, it’s set to be a challenging, stylish, important work, with contributions from all sides of the prison bars.
The film opened NYFF earlier this year and his since screened at Toronto International Film Festival. It was also bow at the London Film Festival in October, before being released worldwide on Netflix on Friday 7th October.
Netflix to open NYFF with Ava DuVernay’s The 13th
20th July 2016
Netflix will open the 2016 New York Film Festival this September with Ava DuVernay’s The 13th.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center has selected the documentary for the opening night of the festival, which runs from 30th September to 16th October. The world premiere at Alice Tully Hall marks the first-ever non-fiction work to kick off the festival, now in its 54th year.
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 the Netflix original 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.”
New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair 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.”
From D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915) and the rebirth of the KKK to the Civil Rights Movement, the 1994 Crime Bill, the rise of ALEC, and the Black Lives Matter movement, DuVernay traces a pattern of fear and division that has consistently driven mass criminalization. The film mixes archive footage and testimonies from leading voices, including Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson, Van Jones, Newt Gingrich, Angela Davis, Senator Cory Booker, Grover Norquist, Khalil Muhammad, Craig DeRoche, Shaka Senghor, Malkia Cyril, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and an array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men.
“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,” says Ava 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 film will then go on to premiere worldwide on Netflix on Friday 7th October, when it will also have a limited release in US cinemas.
“Ava gives us a remarkable and ambitious framework for understanding why the US represents 5 per cent of the world’s population, yet is home to nearly 25 per cent of the world’s prisoners. Her work has been tireless and passion-fueled and has resulted in a sweeping view at a tenuous time. We are honored to provide a global platform for this deeply urgent work,” adds Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP of Original Documentary Programming.
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