Director Ava DuVernay previewed her Netflix documentary “The 13th” for press and industry before its world premiere as the Opening Night presentation at the 2016 New York Film Festival on Friday, September 30. She was on-hand to discuss the making of the film, including her decision to chronicle the unlikely political rise of Donald Trump (watch above).
“The 13th” considers the longstanding consequences of the 13th amendment to the US Constitution, which ostensibly outlawed slavery except for an insidious caveat: “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” That clause sowed the seeds for the war on crime and the war on drugs a century later, policies that disproportionately target people of color, leading all the way to Trump, who pledges to restore “law and order” in much the same way.
“It’s vital to have him in there because he’s taken this country to a place that is going to be long-studied,” DuVernay says of Trump’s candidacy within the larger context of race relations in American history. “It’s going to have repercussions past this moment regardless of whether he’s the president or not — God, I can’t believe I even said those words — so we need to remember this moment … It’s too important, and it can’t be forgotten.”
DuVernay discussed more about “The 13th” in her wide-ranging Q&A. Watch more videos by clicking the links below:
On finding hope despite injustice: “The credits sequence is about black joy because black trauma is not our life. We’re survivors.”
On using police brutality videos with permission from the victims’ families: “They don’t own it. I could have put it in anyway, as everyone else does who plays it on TV ad nauseam. Can you imagine the last moments of your loved one in such a violent manner, and anyone can use it and not ask for permission?”