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Filmmaker Kirby Dick made, arguably, one of my favorite documentaries with his thrilling expose of the movie ratings board (MPAA) in "This Film Is Not Yet Rated." Clearly, he is not adverse to challenging the status quo and asking the probing and provocative questions that help to define an issue. This unblinking gaze is turned onto the horrific subject of sexual assault and cover-up within the military in the eye-opening, unpleasant, and powerful "The Invisible War." And the result may leave you quite stunned and disturbed. This is certainly not a new topic, I've heard about quite a few individual cases through the years. But the quantity of these events might just surprise you and Dick uses the government's own internal statistics to support his claims. Here's a couple of examples: about 20% of women in the armed services have endured some type of sexual assault (these are just reported numbers as well) and men entering service are 15% more likely to have sexual assault in their background than a similar composition of civilian men. The Department of Defense estimates there were 19,300 service members sexually assaulted in 2010 alone! Tell me that isn't a horrifying figure.

Dick makes things extremely personal in "The Invisible War." The film is populated by a staggering number of women and men who were victimized while serving their country. Obviously, these stories are shocking and uncomfortable. The betrayal (by people they considered brothers or friends) alone has impacted many irreparably and the psychological toll is apparent. Many of the strongest emotional moments are provided by the loved ones of these former soldiers as well. The film also examines the issue from the legal side, with many experts weighing in on the handling of such cases. Because as if the initial attacks weren't awful enough, the military response (in most cases) doubly intensified the situations. For me, this is the most disgusting part of these crimes--the seeming indifference, the lack of responsibility, and the veiled (or not so veiled) threats to keep these victims silenced. It's appalling, truly.

"The Invisible War" is an important film that should be seen and examined. Hopefully by continuing to shine a light on this unpleasant subject, there will be more and more pressure to start taking effective measures (beyond a ridiculous advertising campaign that supposes all men are predators and women should be wary of everyone). But those in power, even with congressional scrutiny, seem to remain obstinate and defiant. Obviously, "The Invisible War" is an impassioned movie that will get under your skin. In that way, it is extremely effective and affecting. My highest recommendation, this is a topic that needs to be explored even further--but Dick's film is a bracing expose that just might surprise you. KGHarris, 10/12.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon September 29, 2012
To realize how timely this documentary is, I watched the DVD last night and on this morning National new on ABC-TV was a story that charges were being brought in San Francisco this week on multiple sexual assaults on women in the armed forces in San Francisco. As you will learn (among many astounding facts in this 97-minute documentary) if you watch it (and you should), no cases of these sexual assaults were brought to conviction until this past Spring (2012) when Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta watched the film and changed the rules as to who had power to make decisions in these cases.

Director Kirby Dick is best known for his Oscar-nominated film on the Motion Picture Rating Board, but this film covers an even more serious topic.

The fact that the Department of Defense estimates that 20% (!) of all females in the Armed Services have been raped will probably astound the average American. But Dick has the proof. Though at least 20 women (and, a few men - yes, men are raped in the service too), the more in depth interviews are with 3 or four women dealing with PRSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - an anachronism surprisingly never explained in the film). A few times I though the interviews were repetitive, and could have been edited some to tighten up the film, but that's a small gripe.

The film won the Audience Award at the recent 2012 Sundance Festival and, it's good to know that New Video and Docurama are getting it out on DVD so quickly.

I watched the DVD, not the Bluray, but I don't think there is any difference in content. The DVD has four bonus features in addition to the full-length audio commentary by Director Dick and the film's Producer, Amy Ziering:

Extended interview with one of the victims and her husband - 4 minutes
The Sundance Speak-out session - 6 minutes
A "Survivors Retreat" - 11 minutes
A featurette on "Equine PTSD Therapy" where horses are used to help the victims deal with their emotional issues - 3 ½ minutes

When there are stories as important as this, I sometimes wonder how the TV "news" show can spend their air time on "Tom and Katie" fluff stories. At least THIS story is being told via home video.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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on September 11, 2012
I'd encourage everyone to go see the film if it plays nearby. I've been reading up about it but the actual film is even more powerful. The systemic injustice suffered by these men and women is horrific. The military seems like a very hostile workplace. And it scares me to realize that the perpetrators, who often go scot-free or even promoted, may one day mix amongst us civilians without our knowing. They could create new victims in workplaces and in our neighborhoods. I am glad that the Secretary of Defense is taking some steps to improve the process, but more needs to be done. Kudos to Kirby Dick and his team for bringing this important issue to our attention.
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on February 8, 2013
"The Invisible War" is a 2012 documentary about rape in the United States Military. The film showcases about a few dozen women (and one man) and their firsthand accounts of the rape they experienced at the hands of trusted fellow officers. Per the film, when these women reported the assault, they were treated disgracefully. Every woman in the documentary was denied justice and in almost all of the cases, not only did the perpetrators walk away completely unscathed, but many of them were promoted to higher ranking positions.

After watching the film, I came away with a few negative perceptions of the way our armed forces are managed based on the actions of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) in general and the U.S. Military specifically.

First, while the official numbers of rapes of enlisted men and women in the U.S. Military is roughly at 13.5% per the DOD, this is what is being reported. There are estimates that the real numbers are either double or triple that of the official numbers. Considering how poorly and unjustly the victims were treated, I can see why so many might decide not to report their assaults... especially if they want to make the military their career. Many of these women, some of whom were unmarried, were raped by married men and instead of the men being disciplined or charged, the women were demoted or had disciplinary actions taken against them for adultery! I kid you not...

Secondly, actions speak volumes. It is clear that women are not wanted or accepted as full partners/ soldiers/ comrades (whatever you want to call them) in the United States Military. If they were, what's happened would not have happened on the scale that it has. The lack of any real oversight and the unwillingness to charge or seriously discipline the perpetrators says a lot. Since Leon Panetta viewed this film, he has since removed the ability of the soldiers' direct report (captain, sergeant, lieutenant, etc.) to be judge and jury during these cases, so we will see what happens next. Imagine being raped by your commander, yet he was the one who you had to report the rape to? What? Those insane rules had been in effect until April or May of 2012.

Thirdly, is the issue of the quality of person we have in the United States Military. Certainly, many good people join and serve honorably (men and women), however, after viewing this film and hearing a few personal stories while living in the 2nd largest military community in the country (South Eastern VA, 1 in 10 Virginians are active or retired duty military), it would appear that either the U.S. Military has severely lowered its standards or their standards were never that high to begin with. The lack of concern and definitive action speak directly to the decency and character of those overseeing and judging these rape victims and incidents... at the highest levels!

"The Invisible War" is tragic, but a must see for any woman considering joining the military. After seeing this, if my daughter was of age to join, as a parent I would strongly dissuade her from joining. Though I'm sure there are many women in our armed forces that never have an incident like this and go on to have fulfilling military careers, it's an awful chance to take considering that one is more likely to be raped while serving versus being a civilian. Documentaries are usually created to educate the public about a given topic and this one did just that for me and for many others, it would seem, judging by the reviews. Sad, but excellent film that needed to be made.
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on December 16, 2012
I watched this movie because I Kori one of the victims is one of my best friends and I wanted to better understand her struggle. I knew of the situations years before this movie was even thought of and I was aware of Kori's struggles but I had no idea until this year what she has really been going through. I'm in the U.S Army and I support this movie and the Invisible War movement I have seen women be assaulted and put into situation that were wrong and they always came out as the bad guy in the situation the finger was automatically pointed at her and she was harassed until she dropped the charged. This is a problem and I am so glad that Kori and the other survivor's voices are finally being heard!
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on April 1, 2013
There is no way this film is not better than Searching For Sugarman or 5 Broken Cameras, but because of the subject matter, I don't think the major groups involved would want something like this getting more accolades or national attention.

I have worked in the USPS for 6 months and a good deal of workers there are all ex-military and behave just like the predator in this film. How the heck am I going to send my loved one to go defend this country, when there is no one to defend them from getting raped by another member of their unit? Do these same predators rape the people of the countries they occupy as well?

This film can (and should) be watched by your entire family.
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on October 27, 2012
I worked as a Dept of Defense engineer for the better part of two decades, supervised 60 employees, and was a stellar performer. Thankfully I was never raped, but I did experience harassment, threats to my life, and what laughably passes for DoD's "justice system". I can attest that the systemic dysfunction purported by this movie is absolutely true. Because America is engaged in perpetual wars, has residual guilt feelings over how we treated returning Vietnam vets, and is largely indifferent to the fate of the mostly lower classes that comprise our fighting force, politicians are reluctant to address the massive corruption and mismanagement in this popular, and politically powerful organization.

I also highly recommend Chalmers Johnson's books, for insight into military operations. Very enlightening series. Blowback, Second Edition: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (American Empire Project)Speaking Freely: Chalmers Johnson
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The Invisible War is a real eye-opener into the horrific problem of sexual assault in the military. Filmmaker Andy Dick dives into the subject matter with poignant interviews with victims of rape and sexual assault; we also see "officials" in the Sexual Assault Prevention & Response program who are not well versed at all in what they're supposed to be doing when it comes to stopping this problem. The film progresses at a good pace, never too fast or too slow; and I was never once bored. Indeed, my heart broke for these people, both women and men, who were made to suffer without any ability to bring their perpetrators to justice.

We see just how hard it is to ever bring an offender to justice--sometimes it's the commanding officer who committed the crime! Moreover, in interview after interview, we find out that the military's officers have quite a deal going down in their favor--not only do they say the woman caused it by perhaps being too "provocative" or dressing in an attractive way, they simultaneously open an investigation into the woman who was raped in order to make her an example to others. The lesson they want to teach is that if you file a complaint about sexual harassment or sexual abuse you will be most likely demoted or even potentially ousted from the military. After all is said and done, victims get punished and the perpetrators are shielded--and sometimes even rewarded as their crimes are covered up! Of course, this system has resulted in many, many cases of sexual assault never being reported to commanding officers.

Another interesting fact I discovered was that 15% of men entering the military have already committed some type of sexual assault! This is very troubling.

The DVD comes with a few bonus features. I particularly appreciated the Sundance "speak-out session" and the featurette about a survivors retreat. There is also an extended interview with a victim and her husband and a brief featurette about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) therapy using horses.

I am encouraged that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta watched this film and took away the ability of commanding officers to be brutally harsh judges and juries when women file complaints about harassment and abuse. Obviously, however, there's a lot more that needs to be done. This fine documentary should be mandatory viewing for any new recruits and women who are thinking of joining the military and people making policy decisions at all levels of government that have to do with the armed forces and recruiting. In addition, anyone who appreciates crime and military documentaries with social and cultural themes will not be disappointed.
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on March 20, 2013
Deliver Us from Evil; is a 2006 documentary by Amy Berg who investigated the life of pedophile priest Oliver O'Grady. Watching that documentary, I wondered how anyone could even belong to a faith, church or whatever when even one of their own representatives would do what O'Grady did to hundreds of families or even one family. Shocking, disgusting and disturbing to say the least. Bravo Amy Berg. Watching The Invisible War was more disgusting since it represents us as a country, as a society. I do not have to belong to any church but I am a citizen of a country and in this case, a proud citizen of United States of America. To watch our representatives do nothing except play their part in a circus which benefits them as a patriotic American was more insulting to me than anything else but what keeps us, The Americans an American, is what we do for humanity. The director, Kirby Dick gives you all the tools to show your humanity. Go to NotInvisible.com to demand Washington do more to stop those who ruin lives of those who protect us. Let those victims know that you share their pain and misery. They went for a career but yet ended up somehow disable, broke and in pain. That is not what humanity should be about and we as the citizens of this country can demand change since those in Washington are working for us if you believe in the constitution of this beautiful country called United States of America. Do not let few disgraceful individuals harm the innocent in the name of our military. My best wishes to those victims and their loved ones. Stay strong. Wish you health and happiness.
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on December 9, 2012
This documentary is helping make this invisible issue known and helping women servicemembers. Its helping convice the people who can make changes to help. As a victim of military rape, I appreciate it so deeply when someone says thanks, but I always wish I could tell them why I really appreciate their thanks. I'm thankful this documentary can do it better than I can alone.

Everyone deserves to know, when they say "thankyou for your service":
its more likely they're thanking women for a sacrifice they're not even aware of. The women recieving the thanks might wish they could tell them, but there's not enough awareness in the public to feel like anyone would understand if we told them.

Anyone thinking of joining the military:
watch this to see what's actually happened to other women. I cringe during a part of the documentary where a victim tries to talk to someone thinking about joining the military. She's not really worried it would happen to them, a reaction which is really, really... usual. Don't try to make yourself feel better. I've been there, too, so I'm not going to argue but to say I talked to too many other female victims in my own unit to tell anyone, in good conscience, I think it wouldn't happen to them. For example, I wasn't drinking when I was raped and it was in the middle of the day. What you may typically think happens, probably isn't, and you may not be able to react like you think you would either. Some women get raped again by the same person, pretty hard to believe that could happen to you until you hear why it happens.

Even more importantly, this documentary can help people understand how I feel PTSD is made worse:
because of military policies you not only still feel in danger after the rape but even more in danger from attack on everything about you by people you're supposed to be able to trust. For the months and years (of what I believe is reprisal for reporting rape), its almost impossible not to develop worse PTSD.
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