Ava DuVernay’s Mass Incarceration Documentary “13th” Opens to Standing Ovation at New York Film Festival

New York Film Festival 2016 opening

article by Gordon Cox via Variety.com

Ava DuVernay’s “13th” opened the 54th New York Film Festival with a jolt of topical urgency, shaking up tradition as the first documentary to kick off the festival and addressing head-on the issue of mass incarceration and its historical roots. The crowd at the premiere screening rose to its feet when the credits rolled — and then did it a couple more times after that: once when the lights came up on the filmmakers, activists and academics involved in the film, and again when DuVernay appeared for a brief talkback after the movie.

Heightened security measures, a reaction to the Sept. 17 bombing in Chelsea, made the opening the first in recent memory to involve bomb-sniffing dogs and security wands. Famous faces including Oprah WinfreyCommon and Don Lemon turned out for the film, which confronts issues at the forefront of the current political conversation: race, inequality, the fallout of slavery, police brutality and Black Lives Matter.

“This moment, this Black Lives Matter moment, it’s not a moment. It’s a movement,” said DuVernay on the red carpet before the film’s world premiere (in words she would later echo when she addressed the crowd in the theater). “People thought, ‘Oh, will it last?’ Well, it has lasted. It’s changed things. It’s forced candidates to talk about things that they did not talk about in previous elections. It’s opened people’s minds. It’s changed art-making. It’s changed music. People are seeing things through a different filter now.”

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2016/film/news/new-york-film-festival-2016-opening-13th-ava-duvernay-1201875308/

0 thoughts on “Ava DuVernay’s Mass Incarceration Documentary “13th” Opens to Standing Ovation at New York Film Festival”

  1. More people need to take criminal justice reform seriously and it is good that documentaries like these are being shared. Mass Incarceration is taking its toll on us all. It isn’t just about the person in prison — it is also about their families — their parents, their children, their spouses, their siblings, their friends, etc. It is time we treat people incarcerated humanely — they are our people — Americans. We need to address the underlying issues that lead to incarceration such as mental illness, addiction and poverty. Our leaders need to not only address federal criminal justice reform, but they need to return to their states and also implement criminal justice reforms there. Let me give you just one example…Lenny Singleton.

    Lenny committed a series of “grab & dash” robberies in one week while high on alcohol and crack to fund his addiction. He robbed a total of less than $550 and no one was murdered or even physically injured. No one claimed to be a “victim.” He did not have a gun. He was a first time felon with a college degree who served in our Navy before his addiction. The judge, without any explanation to Lenny or the courtroom, sentenced him to more time than rapists, child molesters, and murderers. Lenny received 2 Life Sentences plus 100 years. He is sentenced to die in prison while murderers and child molesters will walk free. He would be the first to tell you that he needed to do some time – that’s why he plead guilty – but he did not need to have his life completely taken from him.

    Lenny has been in prison for over 21 years now. He works every business day, lives in the Honor’s Dorm, and takes every available class for self-improvement. During his entire time in prison he has never been in trouble for anything – very rare for lifers. In his spare time, he has co-authored a book to help others headed down the same path called, “Love Conquers All,” now available on Amazon.

    To keep Lenny incarcerated for the rest of his life will cost taxpayers well over a million dollars — for robbing less than $550 in crimes where no one was physically injured — this makes absolutely no sense. That money would be better spent on rehabilitation services, preventative education or rebuilding infrastructures — on anything other than keeping one man, who has served 21 years already, who didn’t injure anyone, who has a college degree locked up for the rest of his life. Lenny deserves to be given a second chance. When you multiply Lenny’s case by the literally thousands of cases similar to his, you begin to grasp the magnitude of the problem.

    Lenny’s case is possibly one of the worst cases in the country illustrating sentencing disparity. In fact it was so horrid that his story ran on the front page of The NY Times on July 4th, 2016, http://nyti.ms/29ik8sY and was picked up by AlterNet, http://www.alternet.org/…/ther… It is time everyone take criminal justice reform seriously.

    Please learn more & sign Lenny Singleton’s petition at http://www.justice4lenny.org. Justice will not have been served if Lenny dies in prison.

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