‘The 13th’, a searing look at the history of racial injustice in the U.S, will premiere in the UK at the 60th BFI London Film Festival on October 6th.

BFI Southbank at Night

“We are proud to present Ava DuVernay’s The 13th as the Documentary Special Presentation at this year’s Festival. Ferocious in its commitment and cool­headed in its unrelenting logic, DuVernay’s new documentary methodically dissects the history of race relations in the US and provides urgent, essential viewing for our time,” – Clare Stewart, BFI London Film Festival Director.

The 13th will screen as a Documentary Special Presentation. This year’s BFI London Film Festival heralds the a season celebrating ethnic performance, the UK’s biggest ever celebration of the range, versatility and power of black actors. Black Star is a galvanizing focus for this year’s Festival, reflected through the festival programme and forming the centrepiece of a Global Symposium event that will ask searching questions around the continued under­ representation of black actors on screen.

Chronicling the history of racial inequality in the United States, The 13th examines how the U.S has produced the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with the majority of those imprisoned being African­ American. The title of DuVernay’s extraordinary and galvanizing film refers to the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution —“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 incarceration and the prison industry in the U.S. Is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity.

From D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, the rebirth of the KKK and the Civil Rights Movement to the 1994 Crime Bill, the rise of ALEC, and the Black Lives Matter movement, DuVernay traces a pattern of fear and division. With a potent mixture of archival footage and testimonies from leading voices, including Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson, Van Jones, Newt Gingrich, Angela Davis, Senator Cory Booker, Grover Norquist, Khalil Muhammad, Craig DeRoche, Shaka Senghor, Malkia Cyril, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and a dazzling array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men, DuVernay creates a work of grand historical synthesis.

“Ava gives us a remarkable and ambitious framework for understanding why the U.S. represents 5% of the world’s population, yet is home to nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners. Her work has been tireless and passion­ fueled and has resulted in a sweeping view at a tenuous time. We are honored to provide a global platform for this deeply urgent work,” – Lisa Nishimura, Netflix VP of Original Documentary Programming.


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