A Powerful “13TH” Concert Screening

It was a full house inside the John F. Kennedy Center Concert Hall for the DIRECT CURRENT festival‘s first main stage event– a concert screening of Ava DuVernay‘s 13TH documentary featuring live music composed and performed by Jason Moran (Kennedy Center’s artistic director for jazz) and drummer Eric Harland.

The 13TH concert screening was presented by the Kennedy Center in collaboration with the 2020 One Woman One Vote Festival and festival partner the National Museum of Women in the Arts (sponsor for the pre-screening reception). The DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment (OCTFME) is a co-presenter of the Ava DuVernay tribute festival citywide events.

Jason Moran on piano, Eric Harland on drums. Ava DuVernay’s recorded message for the audience to play before the film. Photo by Cheryl Crim

13TH is an in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality. Audiences inside the Concert Hall found connections with the film’s themes. Some were emotionally responsive during the screening.

With concerns about the impending global health crisis, DuVernay recorded a message that was played before the film expressing her appreciation to the audience for their support and attendance. NPR’s Michel Martin moderated the post-screen Q&A with DuVernay who joined the audience live via FaceTime from Atlanta where she was filming a pilot for HBO Max.

Virtual Q&A with NPR’s Michel Martin and filmmaker Ava DuVerny. Photo by Cheryl Crim
L-R Michon Boston, Kennedy Center’s Deborah Rutter, Bonnie Nelson Schwartz. Photo by Cheryl Crim
2020 OWOV co-directors Michon Boston and Bonnie Nelson Schwartz. Photo by Cheryl Crim

Though the remaining citywide festival events in March and April were cancelled or postponed (in accordance with the DC directives in response to the public health emergency), the OWOV Festival was able to complete 3 programs prior to 13TH for the Ava DuVernay tribute festival. The Duke Ellington School of the Arts hosted a virtual masterclass for students with Felicia Pride (via Zoom), a writer for the Queen Sugar OWN series created by Ava DuVernay. The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian presented a screening of the documentary Merata: How Mom Decolonized the Screen which is distributed by DuVernay’s ARRAY. Ashleigh Coren, curator at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery created an online Learning Lab inspired by Ava DuVernay’s Selma an educational visual resource featuring images from the Smithsonian collections. New dates for the remaining programs will be announced as they are confirmed by the host partners.

The Festival thanks the Kennedy Center, National Museum for Women in the Arts, OCTFME, Netflix, Ava DuVernay and her ARRAY team, the OWOV Festival planning committee and volunteers for making 13TH a tremendous success.


Mrs. Michelle Obama
Don Cheadle
Actor, A Day in the Life of a People
Julie Dash
Director, Daughters of the DustQueen Sugar
Angie M. Gates
Director of OCTFME
Catherine Hand
Producer, A Wrinkle in Time
Kasi Lemmons
Director, HarrietQueen Sugar
David Oyelowo
Actor, SelmaA Wrinkle In Time
Jessica Oyelowo
Bryan Stevenson
Founder, Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative
Tessa Thompson
Actress, Selma
Cicely Tyson
Actor, Cherish the Day