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Earlier this month, Denver Film Society held a kickoff event for the Women + Film VOICES Film Festival, its annual celebration of female-focused films. Organizers screened The Invisible War, which showed at last year’s festival and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony.
The film exposes the prevalence of rape in the United States military. It features lengthy interviews with veterans from several branches of the Armed Forces that reveal common themes: an atmosphere that punishes victims rather than perpetrators, dismissal of charges by unit commanders, the forced expulsion of survivors, and the systemic protection and promotion of offenders.
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Along with personal accounts, the film presents commentary from members of the military justice system, mental health professionals, members of Congress, and Department of Defense (D.O.D.) officials. In 2011, the women in the film, along with other survivors, brought a lawsuit against the D.O.D., alleging a failure to protect service members and adequately address sexual assault within the military. The verdict: Rape is an occupational hazard of working in a military zone.
Though The Invisible War failed to grab the Oscar on Sunday, we hope the film will continue to be an agent for change. Our soldiers are one of our nation’s greatest assets. It’s our duty to protect and serve them just as fiercely as they do us.
Best Bet: See more films about issues that directly affect women at the Women + Film VOICES Film Festival, March 3—10 at Sie FilmCenter.
—Image courtesy of Denver Film Society