Filmmaker Ava DuVernay Hopes You Will Leave '13th' With a Curiosity to Know More

"I hope people are just confronted by our own preconceived notions," she said.

ByABC News
October 12, 2016, 11:33 AM

— -- Filmmaker Ava DuVernay's new documentary, “13th,” may shake up everything you thought you already knew about racial equality in America. And that's just what it's designed to do.

DuVernay recently stopped by the ABC News studios to appear on "Popcorn With Peter Travers" to talk about the making of the film and the message she tried to convey.

"I hope people are just confronted by our own pre-conceived notions," DuVernay told ABC News. "Our own misconceptions, our own assumptions, we all make them whatever color we are.

“This is just about interrogating the things we hold to be true, who we think the criminal is, what we think prison is, what we think is really going on in there. We’re not thinking about it at all."

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The title of the film, "13th," stems from the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, enacted in 1865.

"The 13th Amendment says slavery will be abolished in the land," DuVernay explained. "But there’s a criminality clause, a little exception, a loophole that says slavery is abolished except as punishment for a crime. Which means slavery is not abolished if you need to use it as punishment for a crime. And that’s what we track in the "13th."

But this is no ordinary lesson in history. It's a film that Travers said, "will get inside of you and shake you up."

DuVernay was also the director behind the critically acclaimed civil rights drama "Selma" which was nominated for an Oscar after being released in 2014. Netflix came calling for DuVernay soon thereafter.

PHOTO: Ava Duvernay and Peter Travers are seen here at the ABC Headquarters in New York, Sept. 30, 2016.
Ava Duvernay and Peter Travers are seen here at the ABC Headquarters in New York, Sept. 30, 2016.

"After ‘Selma’ I was approached by Netflix asking, 'If you could do a doc on anything, what would it be.’ And this issue has always been important to me," DuVernay, 44, told Travers. "I think it’s because I grew up around it. I grew up in Compton, California, and it was a very robust police presence.

“Knowing people who were incarcerated or formerly incarcerated was a common thing. And so it was always on my mind as an experience. And when I went to college and majored in African-American studies, I was able to give that experience historical context."

"13th" is available in theaters and on "Netflix." Be sure to watch the full interview to find out more about "13th" and to learn more about DuVernay's next big history-making project.

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