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Ava DuVernay's "The 13th" Is First Non-Fiction Film to Open New York Film Festival in More Than 50 Years

For the first time in more than 50 years, a non-fiction film opened the New York Film Festival.

The film's topic? The immense incarceration rate in the United States.

The director? None other than MAKER Ava DuVernay.

Both sides of the political spectrum have acknowledged that although the United States holds just 4.4 percent of the world's population, it houses nearly 22 percent of the world's prisoners.

In "The 13th," DuVernay examines the function of the private industry and political factors that have "nothing to do with keeping people safe." She also illustrates how a disproportionate amount of prisoners are black men, and uses footage from the civil rights era to today's Black Lives Matter movement.

Critics have noted the opening of DuVernay's film marks a departure from the festival's custom of opening with commercial films like the fictional "Gone Girl" and "The Walk."

"She's redefining what the national conversation is, and doing it in a very powerful way," said Kent Jones, the festival's director in an interview.

The 54th New York Film Festival presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, will run from Sept. 30 to Oct. 16. "The 13th" will appear in theaters and on Netflix on Oct. 7.

Watch the full trailer for the film below:

NEXT: Ava DuVernay Has Some Surprising Advice for Aspiring Filmmakers »

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