Editor’s Note: This blog was written and submitted by Colorado Delegate Marla Wood.
The Women+Film VOICES Film Festival in Denver, Colorado, is kicking off this year with a special screening of Oscar nominated investigative documentary The Invisible War. Vision 2020 first honored Jennifer Siebel Newsom, one of the executive producers of this film, during the Third National Vision 2020 Congress in Portland, OR with the Vision2020 Visionary Award for her work on Sundance Film Winner, Miss Representation. The Invisible War is a groundbreaking film exposes the shameful epidemic of violent sex crimes against women in the military. The film reveals that a female soldier in combat zones is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The Department of Defense estimates there were a staggering 19,000 such crimes in the military in 2010.
Audiences and critics alike have called this film a must-see despite the disturbing details of stories told by brave interviewees. One critic noted the great skill demonstrated by producer Amy Ziering in creating an environment where women felt safe and even proud to participate in the project. The urgency of this issue will encourage an important post-film discussion at the VOICES Film Festival.
The Invisible War reminds us of the significance of film for telling stories of, by and for women. In fact, it demonstrates how film can be an instrument for change. After The Invisible War was released in 2012, a bipartisan group of senators and representatives hosted a special screening of the film. This event prompted a lawsuit brought against Defense officials, which precipitated fundamental changes to how the Department of Defense will handle these crimes. Secretary Panetta demonstrated bold action in January, 2013, by lifting the 18-year ban on women serving in combat positions, but further bold action is required to ensure the welfare of all female soldiers. The filmmakers, Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick, have stated their commitment to this issue and their intent to hold officials who say they will take action to their word. They have even outlined specific recommendations.
Women+Film, founded in 1995 by Barbara Bridges, shows films like The Invisible War in an effort to galvanize audiences to action on issues of human rights. Women+Film presents film screenings throughout the year featuring women in leadership roles, female directors, filmmakers and experts on topics in the films. Women+Film launched the VOICES Film Festival on International Women’s Day in 2011. Understanding the importance of self-expression through film, Women+Film creates programming partnerships with many other arts and cultural organizations and aims to provide scholarships to film classes to deserving young girls.
The Invisible War will play at the Denver Film Society on February 11, 2013; at 7:00 pm. Tickets are available now. Visit Women+Film’s website (www.womenplusfilm.org) to learn more. The VOICES Film Festival continues March 5 – 10, 2013. Best wishes to Amy Ziering and director Kirby Dick at the Academy Awards on Sunday, February 24, 2013. If you are not in Denver this February, check out the filmmaker’s website to find out how you can see this important film (www.invisiblewarmovie.com).