Posts Tagged ‘Amy Ziering’

This just in…I received an email from Nancy Schwartzman, Outreach Campaign Director, for the film The Invisible War. Last week the movie won The Sundance Film Festival’s Audience Award in the Documentary Competition! What follows is the great news in Nancy’s own words:

Dear Friends,
We are thrilled to announce that “The Invisible War” has won the Audience Award in the Documentary Competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival! It has been an exhilarating week! We’re blown away by the positive responses to the film, and your commitment to taking action with us, to make a difference in the lives of thousands of military sexual assault survivors.
We couldn’t have done it without the incredible support of our Executive Producers, Geralyn Dreyfous, Maria Cuomo Cole, Regina Kulik Scully, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Abigail Disney, and Nicole Boxer-Keegan. We give special thanks to Mary J. Blige, who joined us for the premiere and will be writing an original song for the film.
Buzz for the film began building even before our Sundance launch, when on Wednesday January 18, “The Invisible War” was featured on NBC’s nightly news with Brian Williams.  Featured in this piece was Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta’s press conference announcing (in anticipation of our film’s release) that the military would make every attempt to improve it’s responsiveness on issues of sexual assault.  We plan to hold Panetta accountable to his vows, via our advocacy campaing to alleviate the suffering of hundreds of  thousands of assault survivors who do receive neither justice or adequate care.
On Friday, January 20th, the day of the premiere, anticipation was high. Survivors flew in from all over the country to join us in Park City, Utah. We were honored to have service members Kori Cioca and several others join us with their partners and families for premiere weekend to see the film and answer audience questions.
Immediately after the screening ended, the impact was clear. There was a standing ovation and outpouring of emotion. One audience member was so moved, he offered to anonymously pay for the surgery that Kori Cioca so desperately needs, as a result of her rape and lack of responsiveness from the VA. Supporters in the audience included Senator Barbara Boxer, Brigadier General Loree Sutton, Representative Jackie Speier and Representative Michael Turner. Following the premiere, we convened at an after party that included an intimate conversation with Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Siebel Newsom about the importance of challenging the epidemic of sexual violence in our military.
On Sunday 1/22, survivors, advocates, and filmmakers came together for a community speak out. Survivors dialogued with members of the local anti-violence advocate community, members of the Utah VA, and we hosted a virtual conversation about MST on twitter using the hashtag #Notinvisible. Tweets and photographs are compiled here on Storify.
In the week following the premiere, the buzz was unstoppable and positive reviews and support poured in. From The Daily Beast to Reuters, to The Associated Press to The L.A. Times, the message about “The Invisible War” and the epidemic of military sexual assault it uncovers were felt far and wide across America thanks to the attention of the mainstream media.
Our outreach team also took to the internet to help spread the word, joining the Women’s Media Center for a virtual discussion about Military Sexual Assault with over 16,000 participants.
The actions we wanted to ignite are starting to occur!  In just over a week, we have over 2,000 signatures directed at the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, and the Veterans Affairs Committees to take direct and immediate action to take the reporting of rapes outside of the chain of the command, and make getting disability benefits for military sexual assault survivors much easier.
Will you join us in sending a clear message to Capitol Hill?
Sign up to host a screening in your community: invisiblewar@filmsprout.org if people see this movie, this issue will no longer remain invisible.
Thanks for your support,
Nancy Schwartzman
Outreach Campaign Director

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I’m at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah this week and it’s quite an event. There are the obviously beautiful people like Kate Bosworth, Emily Blunt, Taylor Swift and Ireland’s own Eve Hewson (daughter of Bono and Ali Hewson) walking around but they pale in comparison to the amazing indie films on offer. Today I saw The Invisible War, a groundbreaking documentary investigating the epidemic of rape in the U.S. military against women and men.

When Amy Ziering, the producer of The Invisible War, kindly offered up a ticket I was delighted. Then I went home and Googled the movie…90 minutes about rape? To say I was concerned about attending the film is a huge understatement. I quite literally didn’t want to go. Thankfully, however, I did. This is an amazing, shocking, sad, powerful and hopeful film. Please click here to see the preview.

It opens with a few light-hearted vintage military recruitment ads aimed at women. These are followed by clips of women talking about why they chose to enlist. Quickly, the interviews turn serious, and within minutes of starting we learn that each woman (and one man) in the film is a survivor of rape at the hands of a comrade.

Shockingly the following stats unfold: the U.S. Department of Defense estimates that as many as 16,150 service members were sexually assaulted in 2009; at least 20 percent of service-women and 1 percent of men have experienced sexual trauma while serving (which is twice the rate for the civilian population); that only 8 percent of sexual assault cases in the U.S. military are prosecuted and 2% result in convictions. The final shock is the extremely disturbing statement from the Dept. of Defense that rape is considered “an incident to military service”.

Really…”an incident”?! Since when is rape an incident to any career choice? Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said recently “one sexual assault is one to many”. Here. Here. Now, what’s being done about it?!

For The Invisible War’s main subject Kori Cioca, not enough. The class-action law suit she and her fellow survivors took against Donald Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of Defense, was dismissed in 2011. She has been denied necessary medical attention from the Veterans Administration for the surgical treatment of her jaw which was dislocated by her rapist. She and her family have had to suffer the public airing of a very private trauma in order to receive any justice…and that justice is coming too slowly. If there is a silver lining to Kori going public it is that, as a direct result of The Invisible War being screened this week during the Sundance Film Festival, someone has come forward and offered to pay for her much needed surgery. The estimated cost is upwards of $50,000.

The generosity of the anonymous couple is wonderful but it is not enough – Kori is only one victum. To help the others, and the ones yet to come, we must help bring about a change by taking action. Please, get involved in one of the following ways:

1. Sign and share a petition supporting the STOP Act and the Holley Lynn James Act 2012. It takes less than two minutes to do.

2. See The Invisible War, tell your friends about it or host a screening party.

3. Text NOTINVISIBLE to 313131 to stay informed as to how to bring this issue to Washington.

4. Watch your local PBS listing for The Invisible War which will be showing in 2012/2013 on Independent Lens.

There’s one last thing we can do but it’s a long shot…Amy Ziering jokingly asked if anyone in our audience knew of a way to get this film to President Obama. If you believe in six degrees of separation then this should be possible. Today, I asked a designer friend of mine, who knows someone close to Michelle Obama, if she could help get this film before the First Lady. We’ll see what happens. If everyone tries, maybe together we can be successful! Please help.

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