ava duvernay secretly filmed a documentary about systematic racism

'The 13th' has been selected as the first documentary to ever open the New York Film Festival, and makes Duvernay the first black woman to open the festival.

by Hannah Ongley
19 July 2016, 6:15pm


Somewhere in between shooting HBO fashion documentary The Battle of Versailles, her own TV series Queen Sugar, and the Disney feature A Wrinkle in Time, Ava Duvernay has filmed a secret documentary about systematic racism and the prison-industrial complex in America. The 13th, named after the 1865 constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, will open the New York Film Festival in September. It will be the first documentary to do so in the festival's 53-year history, and the first film by a black woman to do so. The timely story is then slated for an October 7 release on Netflix and in theaters. 

The film will reportedly include footage of the Civil Rights Movement, the Ku Klux Klan, Black Lives Matter activists, and interviews with leading political figures and scholars including Michelle Alexander, who wrote the 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Previous festival openers include The Walk and Gone Girl, the latter of which pulled in a whopping $369.3 million at the box office. Festival director Kent Jones told the New York Times that the decision to lead with The 13th is a testament to its storytelling power. "There's no other answer besides the fact that it's a great film," he said. "It meets the moment head on. She's redefining what the national conversation is, and doing it in a very powerful way."


Text Hannah Ongley
Image via Instagram

Ava DuVernay
New York Film Festival
the 13th