Ava DuVernay Hopes New Film Will Shed Harsh Light On Mass Incarceration

The filmmaker wants her new documentary to create change in America’s broken justice system.
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Ava DuVernay wants her new documentary on mass incarceration create change in America’s broken justice system.

In a special Complex interview with rapper Pusha T, Ava DuVernay discussed the importance of her Netflix film, “13.” According to DuVernay, the film’s title is derived from the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“Everybody knows the 13th Amendment of the Constitution says there shall be no slavery in the United States,” she said. “Most people don’t know that that is a lie. Right after it says there shall be no slavery, there’s a little clause, a little loophole, that says ‘except.’ The exception is, except if we think you’re a criminal.”

Later in the conversation, DuVernay went on to provide her thoughts on the missing link behind the adage, “if you do the crime, you do the time” ― which she says is racially biased.

“If we’re gonna apply that adage equally across all citizens, then that would be fine, but the problem is we don’t,” she said. “You and I do the crime, and there is one penalty. Some of our friends in the room taping the interview do the crime, it’s going to be something different.”

DuVernay also attributed mass incarceration to the helping prisons “stay afloat” financially. To help reverse the trend, the Compton-native hopes “13” will inspire change.

“If there’s anything that is my hope with ‘13th,’ [it’s that it] provides knowledge that can open up doors for compassion, that can open up to change,” she added.

Check out more of Ava Duvernay’s interview in the clip above.

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