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Ava DuVernay's racial inequality documentary "The 13th" to open NYFF 
In this Oct. 19, 2015 file photo, director Ava DuVernay attends the 2015 ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
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Ava DuVernay's "The 13th," a documentary about racial inequality and mass incarceration in the United States, will open the 54th New York Film Festival.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced the selection Tuesday. It's the first time Lincoln Center's prestigious film festival has opened with a nonfiction film.

DuVernay, the director of "Selma," said "The 13th" is about "why we have become the most incarcerated nation in the world." The film traces the country's racial divide through much of the 20th century and up to the Black Lives Matter movement. Its title refers to the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery.

Festival director Kent Jones called the film "an act of true patriotism."

"The 13th" will kick off the 17-day festival, which runs Sept. 30 through Oct. 16.