The 13th Trailer: Ava DuVernay Investigates Mass Incarceration

Still from the Ava DuVernay documentary The 13th
YouTube Screenshot
Still from the Ava DuVernay documentary The 13th
YouTube Screenshot

If you ask certain people what the Second Amendment of the Constitution means, they'll be able to quickly ramble on about their right to bear arms. But if you move further down the amendments and come to the 13th and ask them what it's about, you're sure to hear crickets.


The 13th Amendment to the Constitution 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 … ”

" … except as a punishment for crime."

And it's that punishment that Ava DuVernay is examining in her appropriately titled documentary, The 13th. The United States has just 5 percent of the world’s population—but contains 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. In other words, 1 out of every 4 prisoners in the world is in America. In 1972 the U.S. prison population was 200,000; today it’s 2.3 million. And 1 in 3 black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetimes.

In The 13th, DuVernay, with the help of notables such as Van Jones and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, examines the aftershocks that have reverberated through American society and the justice system since the end of slavery.

The 13th will premiere at the New York Film Festival on Friday, making it the first-ever doc to open the festival, and will air on Netflix Oct. 7 and as a limited theatrical release.

Check out the trailer below: