Ava DuVernay's 'The 13th' Announced as Opening Night Film of the 54th New York Film Festival

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April 20th 2017

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The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced this morning that Ava DuVernay’s documentary "The 13th" will be the Opening Night selection of the 54th New York Film Festival (September 30 – October 16), making its world premiere at Alice Tully Hall.

"The 13th" is the first-ever nonfiction work to open the festival, and will debut on Netflix and open in a limited theatrical run on October 7.

Per the FSLC press release...








... The film chronicles the history of racial inequality in the United States, examining how the country has produced the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with the majority of those imprisoned being African American. The title of the 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 . . . ” The progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass incarceration and the prison industry in the U.S. is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity.

New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said, “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. With a potent mixture of archival 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 a dazzling array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men, DuVernay creates a work of grand historical synthesis.

“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,” said 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.”

“Ava gives us a remarkable and ambitious framework for understanding why the U.S. represents 5% of the world’s population, yet is home to nearly 25% 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,” said Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP of Original Documentary Programming.

The 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Jones, also includes Dennis Lim, FSLC Director of Programming; Florence Almozini, FSLC Associate Director of Programming; Amy Taubin, Contributing Editor, Film Comment and Sight & Sound; and Gavin Smith, who serves as a consultant.

Tickets for the 54th New York Film Festival will go on sale September 11. Becoming a Film Society Member at the Film Buff Level or above provides early ticket access to festival screenings and events ahead of the general public, along with the exclusive member ticket discount. Learn more at filmlinc.org/membership.

For even more access, VIP passes and subscription packages offer one of the earliest opportunities to purchase tickets and secure seats at some of the festival's biggest events including Opening, Centerpiece, and Closing Nights. VIP passes also provide access to many exciting events, including the invitation-only Opening Night party, “An Evening With…” dinner, Filmmaker Brunch, and VIP Lounge. Benefits vary based on the pass or package type purchased. VIP passes and subscription packages are on sale now. Learn more at filmlinc.org/NYFF.

by Tambay Obenson on April 20th 2017
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