13th: watch the trailer for ava duvernay’s netflix doc about american prisons and racial inequality

The documentary will become the first non-fiction film to open the New York Film Festival on Friday, ahead of a Netflix and limited cinema release on 7 October.

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27 September 2016, 12:51pm

The first trailer has been released for 13th, a new documentary from Selma director Ava DuVernay about incarceration and racial inequality in America, ahead of it's premiere at the New York Film Festival this Friday, when it will become the first ever non-fiction film to open the festival.

Described as a story "150 years in the making," the title is a reference to the Thirteenth Amendment to the American Constitution, which made it unconstitutional to hold someone as a slave -- but with an exception made, for criminals. "The loophole was immediately exploited," a commentator in the trailer tells us, explaining that following the era of black slavery there was a "rapid transition to a mythology of black criminality" in both cultural and political life, with the documentary placing footage of blackface criminals from old movies alongside Hillary Clinton's 1996 "super-predators" remark about young gang members.

The film is set to investigate the "horrors of mass criminalisation and the sprawling American prison industry," with the trailer noting that 1 in 4 of all imprisoned people in the world are held in US prisons, the supposed 'land of the free', with a disproportionate number of those people being of African American descent. The trailer features the story of Kalief Browder, a black 16-year-old boy who was arrested for robbery and held in prison without conviction for three years, two years of that in solitary confinement; Browder later killed himself, prompting calls, including by Barack Obama, to address the overuse of solitary confinement in American prisons.

13th premieres at NYFF this Friday, debuting on Netflix and getting a limited cinema release on 7 October.

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Text Charlotte Gush