The New York Film Festival has tapped Ava DuVernay’s documentary The 13th, which chronicles the history of racial inequality in the U.S. with an in-depth look at the country’s prison system, as the opening-night film for its 54th edition. The fest to run September 30-October 16 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. It will mark the first nonfiction film to kick off the fest.
The film debuts on Netflix and bows in theaters on October 7.
The 13th, whose title refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution outlawing slavery “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” examines through the country’s history how the U.S. produced the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with the majority of those imprisoned being African-American.
“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 New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones. “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.”
Last year, the NYFF’s opening-night film was Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk.