Great news for military men and women everywhere! The Invisible War made The Oscars shortlist for Best Documentary Feature! The more attention this award winning film receives, the more likely the senior military brass will keep working to make Zero Tolerance the real deal.
Don't know what I'm talking about? Let's fill you in on the details!
First, I know some of you are chomping at the bit to know all 15 films so here you go:
“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” Never Sorry LLCSince I haven't seen any of the other films, it would be unfair of me to make a judgement call but just the fact that The Invisible War made the short list is huge. It makes it more than likely that military community members will hear about the film and be compelled to watch it.
“Bully,” The Bully Project LLC
“Chasing Ice,” Exposure
“Detropia,” Loki Films
“Ethel,” Moxie Firecracker Films
“5 Broken Cameras,” Guy DVD Films
“The Gatekeepers,” Les Films du Poisson, Dror Moreh Productions, Cinephil
“The House I Live In,” Charlotte Street Films, LLC
“How to Survive a Plague,” How to Survive a Plague LLC
“The Imposter,” Imposter Pictures Ltd.
“The Invisible War,” Chain Camera Pictures
“Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” Jigsaw Productions in association with
Wider Film Projects and Below the Radar Films
“Searching for Sugar Man,” Red Box Films
“This Is Not a Film,” Wide Management
“The Waiting Room,” Open’hood, Inc.
Since I saw the film at Netroots Nation 2012, I can't stop writing about it.
Today's military has a problem with Sexual Assault. Now, this isn't a new thing that came out of thin air but it comes as a surprise to many because after scandals in years past, the military comes together and attempts to fix the system to solve the problem and we all think everything is hunky-dory. That is, until the next scandal occurs. Then, very often, those in high places shake their heads and wonder what they are doing wrong. Instead of looking for new and unique ways to solve this problem, they dig in and continue down a path of victim blaming. Enter: The Invisible War.
This exemplary film does a great job of sharing the stories of both male and female veterans who have been sexually assaulted. The stories that resonate most are those that include interviews with family members of the assaulted. One young woman's father, a military senior NCO himself, is heartbroken to hear his daughter has been raped and he repeats that she is still a virgin because she didn't give permission to her rapist. It is so important for both this young lady and her father to believe in her virginity. The agony they feel is palpable. Add to that her father's self-guilt. He had promised his daughter that she would be safe in the military. He believed, like so many of us do, that the miltiary community takes care of it's own. In this case, he was wrong. His daughter was raped during basic training by a fellow a recruit. And then those that were supposed to prosecute the rapist did not meet their obligations and, in fact, may have intentionally lost evidence so that they didn't have to deal with the rape at all.
But it isn't just the personal stories that make this film so great. It's how the filmmakers explain the military approach to sexual assault. It has long been known that instead of attacking this problem head on - the sexual predator is the root cause - we as a society tend to make the victim responsible. The military has been no different. Solutions range from increasing the buddy system (that is again the latest solution out of Lackland AFB after their most recent series of sexual assaults) to making sure that the victim is as thoroughly investigated as the accused because we all know that it is so very common for women to lie about being raped because they just want to get back at somebody.
The film goes on to interview those in charge of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO). I won't give away everything in this film but I will tell you that I am very glad that the woman first given the responsibility to make this office work is no longer there. Her replacement gave more intelligent responses but the two combined reveal the incredible lack of understanding about why rape occurs. This is has been my main reason for continuing to encourage more military officers to see this film. The current training program for sexual harassment does not even begin to address the issue of sexual predators in the way The Invisible War does. Rather than re-write the sexual harassment training, all four military services should show this film instead. At the very least, this film should be seen by any officer who will be a commander. It is only fair that those in command have a complete understanding of the struggle they are up against. They need to have a full arsenal at their command when and if a sexual assault happens in their unit.
At first, it was hard to see this film as it didn't stay long in many theaters. Independent documentaries have a hard time with that. But today, you can rent or purchase the film via iTunes and Amazon.com. You can still host a screening and receive a copy of the film from the makers themselves. If you can't host a screening, maybe you can attend one. This issue isn't going away and our military members deserve the best response from the senior brass and from the civilian community. That response includes embracing The Invisible War as a tool to help fight the battle towards Zero Tolerance.
Spread the word and let The Academy know which film you would like to see win the OSCAR for Best Documentary! Tweet to @invisible_war using the hashtag #notinvisible and share widely on Facebook.