Netflix just released the first trailer for the Ava DuVernay directed documentary 13th and it has a pretty powerful message to share. The title refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which 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 documentary, which is set to open the New York Film Festival on Friday, September 30, features a combination of “archival footage and testimony from a dazzling array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men, according to a description from the streaming service. This is the first time a documentary film has opened up the festival.
DuVernay spoke to Film Comment about how she got involved in making this important film.
“I was approached by Netflix a little bit before making Selma, asking if I was interested in doing anything with them. I continued those conversations with [Netflix VP of Acquisitions] Lisa Nishimura, a really great lady. After Selma I said I’d love to get back into documentary filmmaking, and that I would tinker on something as I worked on another project. She gave me the latitude to do that. We talked specifically about the area I wanted to look into, which was criminal justice, and so it evolved into what it is.
At first, it was an exploration of the prison-industrial complex, an exploration of police brutality—there were a lot of things that I had to investigate to find the spine of it. Netflix has given me the room and time to do that.”
Watch the trailer below: