Over its illustrious 54-year history, the New York Film Festival has hosted some truly significant world premieres, from Bernardo Bertolucci’s incendiary Last Tango in Paris in 1972 to David Fincher’s Gone Girl.
But they’ve never kicked off a fest with a documentary—until now. The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Netflix have announced that this year’s opening-night selection, unspooling September 30 at Alice Tully Hall, will be Ava DuVernay’s The 13th, an indictment of America’s high rates of incarceration (especially among African-Americans).
The title refers to the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery as well as involuntary servitude “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
The high-profile screening is significant for DuVernay: The 13th is her follow-up to Selma, a movie many Oscar-watchers think was snubbed during awards season.
A world premiere at NYFF will make her latest effort impossible to ignore. It sounds like the festival curators were knocked out. In a statement The New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones called The 13th “a great film…an act of true patriotism.” We can’t wait.