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13th trailer: Ava DuVernay documentary explores mass incarceration in America

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Netflix

After rising to prominence as the director of celebrated narrative features like Selma and Middle of Nowhere, Ava DuVernay is looking to make waves with her first major theatrical documentary this fall. Now, you can catch a glimpse of that upcoming film, 13th, in a riveting new trailer that premiered online Monday.

“One out of four human beings with their hands on bars, shackled, in the world, are locked up here in the Land of the Free,” Van Jones says at the top of the preview for the film, which probes into America’s long history of mass incarceration — particularly of black men. 

In a press release, Netflix describes the film as examining “how mass incarceration evolved to its current epic proportions and what the ramifications are for communities of color across the country.” 

The title of DuVernay’s film refers to the 13th constitutional amendment, which reads, “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 filmmaker and producer comments on the “the progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass criminalization and the sprawling American prison industry” in the movie through a combination of archival footage and testimonials from a wide range of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated U.S. citizens, including Jones, Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson, Newt Gingrich, Angela Davis, Senator Cory Booker, Grover Norquist, Khalil Muhammad, Craig DeRoche, Shaka Senghor, Malkia Cyril, and Henry Louis Gates Jr.

13th enters the Best Documentary Oscar race on Friday when it becomes the first nonfiction feature in history to open the New York Film Festival, which typially serves as a launching pad for awards-bound films as the fall movie season heats up. 

Following its NYFF debut, 13th premieres in select theaters and on Netflix beginning Oct. 7. Watch the film’s full trailer in the video, above, and check out its new poster, below. 

Netflix

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