What does it mean when a screening of Kirby Dick’s new documentary about the ongoing (and seemingly unstoppable) epidemic of rape in the US Military,The Invisible War, is only attended by roughly 15 people?
Not that much, actually.
There are plenty of important faces to be met and spoken to directly outside the theater hosting the screening (the unstoppable Meg Lanker-Simons is ready to interview every single one of them - including Michael Steele and Chuck Todd), but that doesn’t change the fact Dick’s most recent political doc (he also directed This Film is Not Yet Rated and Outrage) isn’t a searing, important work. Isaac prevented Dick from attending his planned Q&A, but plenty of information about the film - as well as the victims of rape in the military - can be found at NotInvisible.org.
Despite the fact that there are countless can’t-miss events occurring on and around the convention grounds (both planned and unplanned), there is something unavoidably discomfiting about a documentary seeking to put a face on the “Invisible” being so sparsely attended. The film’s end card informs us that Leon Panetta, two days after viewing the film in April of this year, took immediate action to change the process of prosecuting service members accused of sexual assault.
Coupled with Panetta’s immediate reaction, the film’s critical success is another indicator of The Invisible War’s potential to promote actual change. That’s a feat few documentaries have been able to claim.
(It’s just too bad I missed the screening of Butter, the butter-carving comedy inexplicably part of the same film series. Butter carving is obviously an even more explosive, important topic.)