Ava DuVernay’s upcoming Netflix documentary, “The 13th” will open the 2016 New York Film Festival. Notably, the award-winning director’s documentary will be first nonfiction film to open the NYFF in its 54-year run.

“The 13th” explores the high rate of incarceration of blacks in America, drawing its name from the 13th amendment of the United States Constitution which declares “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, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

In an interview with The New York Times, DuVernay, who directed Selma and the upcoming OWN series Queen Sugar, spoke about what motivated her to create “The 13th.”

“A certain part of our population has been demonized for the benefit of private industry and politicians, and a lot of forces that have nothing to do with, quote, ‘keeping people safe’,” she said. “Once you know why we’re here and how we got here, we’re on more solid footing to walk ourselves out of this deep valley that we found ourselves in. That’s the hope.”

She also took to Twitter to discuss how the United States’ current prison system mirrors slavery so closely.

Kent Jones, the NYFF’s Director, told the NYT about why DuVernay’s film was chosen to open the festival.

“There’s no other answer besides the fact that it’s a great film,” he 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.”

The New York Film Festival will run from September 30th through October 18th. “The 13th” will be released by Netflix on October 7th, 2016.

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