Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 2012. Chain Camera Pictures, Rise Films, ITVS, Fork Films, Cuomo Cole Productions, Canal Plus. Screenplay by Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, Douglas Blush. Cinematography by Kirsten Johnson, Thaddeus Wadleigh. Produced by Tanner King Barklow, Amy Ziering. Film Editing by Douglas Blush, Derek Boonstra. Academy Awards 2012. Gotham Awards 2012. Independent Spirit Awards 2012. National Board of Review Awards 2012. Online Film Critics Awards 2012. Washington Film Critics Awards 2012.
An eye-opener of a documentary whose testimonies will ravage your mind for days. Twenty percent of women in the American military report having experienced sexual assault, the number of victims getting higher when taking into account that it is estimated that eighty percent of victims of sexual assault in the military do not come forward. The number of interview subjects are too many for one film to go into in detail, yet filmmaker Kirby Dick does a marvelous job of balancing the piling on of story after story while focusing on a handful of subjects who let us into their lives before and after their traumas. A career in the military is ruined after being turned on by your own colleagues, and life cannot go on as normal for these soldiers, mostly women but a number of men as well, including Kori Cioca, whose jaw was broken during her assault and has left her permanently unable to eat solid food and at constant consultations with doctors for treatment and surgeries and endless fights with insurance companies for her medical costs. The film examines the attempt to stem the tide of violence, including ad campaigns that put the onus on women not to place themselves into vulnerable situations; these ads are as disingenuous as the military’s tradition of heading up the prosecution of criminal activity within its organization, both of which bring to light the difficulty of dealing with the staggering number of cases that we are presented with. The tragic irony of being brutalized for serving your country is not lost on the filmmakers, while the sympathy engendered for its subjects is deeply moving and powerful without ever being manipulative or simplistic. The cameras are placed close to the lives of the current and former members of the armed forces brave enough to relate their experiences without ever being overly intrusive, nor does the film shy away from the harder aspects of the revelations being presented. A hard film to watch, and everyone must watch it.