Come Friday, director Ava DuVernay (Selma) will make history when her evocative documentary The 13th becomes the first non-fiction feature to open the New York Film Festival.
A vote of confidence if ever there was one, DuVernay and Netflix’s prescient picture places a laser focus on the United States and, specifically, its alarming rate of incarceration – one of the highest in the world, no less. With the majority of those imprisoned being African-American, at a very basic level The 13th refers to the 13th amendment to the constitution, which states, “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’s feature chronicles the history behind those damning statistics, and today’s trailer presents an interesting combination of archival footage and testimonials from activists, politicians and historians, all set against a haunting rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Of those featured are Donald Trump, Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson, Van Jones, Newt Gingrich, Angela Davis, and Hillary Clinton, whose controversial “super-predators” remark from ’96 crops up towards the end. The 13th is the latest Netflix original film to emerge onto the streaming service and, at least based on today’s reveal trailer, DuVernay’s account of mass racial inequality within the US prison system could be one of the most intriguing to date.
“What you see on the news is a story 150 years in the making.” Keep your peepers peeled for Ava DuVernay rolling out The 13th across select theaters and Netflix on October 7. Looking further afield, the filmmaker is also at the helm of Disney’s retelling of A Wrinkle in Time.