In this documentary, Kirby Dick lays bare the scandalous epidemic of rape in the U.S. armed forces—the war on women who fight wars. Told through an array of talking heads—including servicewomen (and a few servicemen) who recount their attacks, military psychiatrists, NCIS agents, attorneys, journalists, and obtuse Department of Defense employees—and intertitles revealing appalling facts (20 percent of female veterans have been sexually assaulted while serving; 25 percent of women in the military don't report rape because the person to notify in their chain of command is the rapist), Dick's film unveils an environment that, in the words of one Army shrink, is "target-rich for predators." A septet of women detail their rapes and the gross indifference and victim-blaming displayed by their superiors after they reported the crimes. Tiny, wiry Kori Cioca, whose assailant broke her jaw when she was attacked in 2005 while serving in the Coast Guard, reveals the dozens of meds, some highly toxic when combined, the VA has prescribed for her PTSD and severe facial-nerve damage— surgery which the agency repeatedly denies her. Interview after interview, statistic after statistic, Dick's advocacy project thoroughly incenses—and appears to be having results. Two days after Dick screened The Invisible War for Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on April 14, the DOD head announced plans requiring, as The New York Times reported, that all sexual-assault complaints be handled by more-senior officers, not unit commanders—a change that hopefully will lead to more prosecutions.
Rape remains underreported in the U.S. military.
Opens Fri., July 13 at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Not rated. 97 minutes.