The Netflix streaming documentary 13th will have its opening night at the 54th New York Film Festival, then begin a limited theatrical run on October 7. Considering what gets covered in these two minutes, the film is not to be missed.


The trailer kicks off with the astounding statistic that one out of four imprisoned people in the entire world are here the United States of America, and goes from there to the horrible case of Kalief Browder. Browder was put in jail at Riker’s when he was 16, having been wrongly accused of stealing a backpack. He spent three years there waiting for trial, two of them in solitary confinement. Browder had difficulty recovering after his release, and eventually died by suicide.

The trailer also shows how loopholes in the constitution and the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery have essentially allowed it to continue via criminal conviction. Politicians have cynically run on platforms that go “hard on crime,” leading to the monetization of of keeping people in jail, disproportionally affecting black men and women. Those politicians include both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.


In a statement to the film festival, 13th’s director Ava DuVernay thanked them for including it in the opening night selection, saying, “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.”

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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