The Silly Season continues, with today’s Sundance announcement of more films, including the Spotlight section, ‘Park City at Midnight,’ and a new ‘Sundance Kids’ section. Spotlight is a collection of films that Sundance programmers have seen at other fests around the world, while the Midnight films are, well, you know what they are!
I’m super psyched for a few of the films announced today, including Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s What We Do in the Shadows (A mocumentary about a group of New Zealand vampires struggling to adapt to the modern world? Yes, please!), Locke, Blue Ruin, and Jim Jarmusch’s latest, Only Lovers Left Alive.
Congratulations to director Kirby Dick and producer Any Ziering for the pickup of their powerful new doc The Invisible War by Cinedigm Entertainment Group and New Video. I saw the film at Sundance and in addition to being a great film, it’s extraordinarily important in these times of increasing violence against and institutionalized subjugation of women. [Trailer and other videos at the bottom.]
In my wrap of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival I wrote of the film: “A heart-breaking and shocking look at rape in the military, Dick’s film details the pain, shame, horror and lasting damage caused by the attacks as well as the shocking hypocrisy and cover-ups endorsed by the military establishment.”
Some stats from the US Department of Defense: 20% of ALL servicewomen have been sexually assaulted while serving. Women who have been raped in the military have a PTSD rate higher than men in combat. An estimated 500,000 women have been sexually assaulted in the US military. In 2010, according to the Department of Defense, there were 3,158 case of sexual assault within the U.S. military. It is estimated that more than 80% of those who are sexually assaulted don’t report it.
The film presents many more statistics, equally as disturbing.
While the subject matter is grim and at times the film is emotionally tough to watch, I will categorically say that this is a film everyone must see, especially educators. It’s a film that could potentially cause a sea change not only in the halls of Congress but in the high schools of America.
At the Q&A following the Sundance world premiere, a 17 year-old young woman in the audience stood up and said that while she had never been physically assaulted, verbal abuse was the norm in her school and she felt that every high school student needed to see the film because boys were not being raised to respect women. It was another poignant moment in the most emotional Q&A I have ever witnessed.
This year, after an eleven year absence, I made my return to the Sundance Film Festival and yes, there were a lot of changes but as the saying goes, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose! There were new hotels and condos, new restaurants and a much better transportation system but there were also the same old throngs of pseudo celebs and their hangers on that were only there for the gifting suites, club nights and seemed to not even know there were films being screened. Like I said, the more things change….
The Sundance lineup always looks good on paper. There are dozens of films from directors both new and unsung that virtually no one has seen, including one (Amy Berg’s West of Memphis) so fresh that producer Peter Jackson literally hand-carried the print to Utah from New Zealand!
A Singular Doc Experience
By the time the awards were handed out on Saturday night, it seemed like many categories had six or seven favorites, although a few were pretty obvious. One of those obvious winners (to me, anyway) was Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War which won the audience award for documentaries. A heart-breaking and shocking look at rape in the military, Dick’s film details the pain, shame, horror and lasting damage caused by the attacks and the shocking hypocrisy and cover-ups endorsed by the military establishment.
Why was it obvious to me that it would get the audience prize? Simple: I have never seen an audience reaction and a post-screening Q & A like this one. Not in over 20 years and well over 150 film festivals have I seen a crying standing ovation with an audience full of senators, US representatives and celebs, including Mary J. Blige, who is writing an original song for the film. Packed with stories and statistics that can do nothing but inspire action and outrage, The Invisible War is a perfect piece of advocacy filmmaking.
The first of my Bad Robot Action Movie Sundance mini-films. All fest I am going to be taking little clips of people, places and things and blowing them up, dropping giant rocks on them or rolling cars into them.
Not because I don’t like them, but because it’s fun! For example, I am very font of both Mynette and Dana, but it’s funny. Get it?
This is courtesy of a terrifically fun new FREE iPhone App called Action Movie FX from Bad Robot and J.J. Abrams!