Director Ava DuVernay’s documentary “The 13th” will open the 2016 New York Film Festival, marking the first time the fest has opened with a nonfiction film.
Set for an October release from Netflix, “The 13th” investigates the high rate of incarceration in the U.S., particularly of African Americans. DuVernay, whose directing credits include “Selma” and “Middle of Nowhere,” traces a historical throughline from “The Birth of a Nation” up through Black Lives Matter, incorporating archival footage and interviews with figures including Angela Davis (pictured above), Cory Booker and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
The selection of the 2016 opener lends an air of topical urgency to this year’s NYFF, with the subject of the documentary chiming with current events that have pushed tensions between police and the African-American community to a high. It also gives DuVernay’s film a high-profile slot in a tightly curated festival with strong awards-season cache. Past films to open the fest have included “The Social Network” (2010), “Life of Pi” (2012), “Gone Girl” (2014) and last year’s “The Walk.”
No other selections in the 2016 lineup have yet been announced for the festival, presented every year by Film Society of Lincoln Center.
“The 13th,” which takes its title from the Constitution’s 13th Amendment, will open NYFF Sept. 30 ahead of a debut on Netflix and in theaters Oct. 7. The 2016 edition of NYFF runs Sept. 30-Oct. 16.