This is the first time that a documentary has ever opened the festival.
The Netflix original documentary chronicles the history of racial inequality in the United States.
The U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration in the world with the majority of those imprisoned being African-American.
"The 13th" refers to the 13th Amendment which states, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States..."
Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., better known as rapper Common, attended the red carpet event in Manhattan.
He spoke to Eyewitness News Entertainment Reporter Sandy Kenyon about the importance of this new documentary. You can watch Sandy's interview in the video player at the top of the page.