The 54th New York Film Festival started this September 30th, with opening night film, Ava Duvernay's 13TH, (coming on Netflix Oct 7th). The screening was followed by a Q&A with Ava herself, where she shared her heartfelt feelings about this film. Checkout the video here:
It's a wonderful and moving film, sharing the dark truth of American history and present. Ava's commitment to meaningful storytelling is very apparent with this film, which comes right after her Oscar nominated film Selma. Moving from History to present, this film shows how even after abolishing slavery, America has kept slavery love in a new form via mass incarceration. The film does not try to preach a solution, but gives a realistic picture of the facts and issue facing the society and this great country.
The all day screenings were followed by the opening night party, which was held at the legendary Tavern On The Green to honor Ava DuVernay’s explosive and eye-opening documentary the “13th” —the first ever documentary to open NYFF. The swanky venue was packed which meant that we were elbow-to-elbow with celebrities, movers-and-shakers, influencers and the best-of-the-best of new storytellers.
On deck to celebrate: Ava DuVernay, actress Naturi Naughton, singer/songwriter/activist Angelique Kidjo, Jelani Cobb, Dave Chappell, Cindy Holland, Uzoamaka Nwanneka "Uzo" Aduba (ONB), Academy Award® winning director Roger Ross Williams (LIFE, ANIMATED) and Academy Award® winner (Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.,) Common who tuned up the crowd with two songs. .
Before brother Common performed we chatted about the importance of voting and truly understanding what the documentary is showcasing in the “loop hole” that is modern slavery in this country. The 13th Amendment 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...". The sobering truth is that 1 out of 4 people with “their hands on bars” — in the world — are located here, in the United States of America, the alleged “home of the free.”
At the party, at every table, was a copy of The Constitution of the United States and a bookmark that sums up the intelligent documentary like this: “From Slave to Criminal with one Amendment. The loophole that changed history.” Further down the details sharing that tahe documentary is available on Netflix starting October 7th and providing the twitter handle which is simply @13thfilm.
The title of Ava DuVernay’s extraordinary and galvanizing documentary refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads“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 criminalization and the sprawling American prison industry is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity. With a potent mixture of archival footage and testimony from a dazzling array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men, DuVernay creates a work of grand historical synthesis. A Netflix original documentary.
The NYFF runs until October 16th.