The Invisible War
Director: Kirby Dick
Producer: Amy Ziering
Funders: The Fledgling Fund, Women’s Donors Network, Sundance, BRITDOC, Regina Kulik Scully, Abigail Disney, Sarah Johnson Redlich, Joel and Susan Hyatt, Jim and Susan Swartz, Elizabeth Lykins, Louise Davis, Barbara Dobkin
The filmmakers cite their funders as an essential source of support for outreach leading up to Sundance. They also provided critical funding which underwrote Hill screenings, extensive non-theatrical outreach, digital support, and the film’s Oscar campaign.
BRITDOC Impact Report
Read more about the film’s outreach campaign in the full BRITDOC case study, which observes:
“The Invisible War is a groundbreaking investigative documentary about one of America’s most shameful and best kept secrets: the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. The film paints a startling picture of the extent of the problem — 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during military service. Focusing on the powerfully emotional stories of rape victims, the film is a moving indictment of the systemic cover-up of military sex crimes, chronicling the women’s struggles to rebuild their lives and fight for justice.
The major impact of this campaign can be seen in the top level of political buy-in on the issue as well as the way that the military has begun to address Military Sexual Assault head-on in a public sphere as well as behind the scenes.
The campaign team has ensured that the issue of Military Sexual Assault has remained constantly in the public eye, coordinating a sustained grassroots campaign around
strategic tentpoles such as the Academy Awards, and generating sustained press
coverage. High level military and crossparty political support has signalled a shift in public
discourse, acknowledging the gravity of the issue and pledging to “end the scourge.” There
has been a raft of unprecedented legislation which has tackled MSA from multiple angles,
a signal that the campaign has managed to create a change in culture within that
most conservative of institutions, the US military. This will need further sustained
advocacy over a considerable period of time, a commitment the campaign has already made.”
Since this case study was written, a total of 5 Senate hearings on the issue of sexual assault in the military have been held, and 35 legislative reforms have been passed. These include measures to bar criminal felons with assault histories from enlisting, a whistleblower protection act, and more. Secretary of Defense Panetta publicly credited the film for influencing his decision to revise military policy on sexual assault within two days of seeing The Invisible War.
The issue has also gained traction in popular entertainment. Executive Producers and writers on shows such as House of Cards, Law and Order: SVU, Scandal, and others have publicly credited the film with bringing the issue of military rape to their attention, which has subsequently been included in these shows’ storylines.
Finally, to connect directly with to victims of abuse, the filmmakers organized a recovery program, funded by Regina Scully, the funder and CEO of the Artemis Rising Foundation and an executive producer of the film. The two-week retreat, offered for free to a group of survivors, including those featured in Invisible War, provides non-pharmaceutically-based treatments to alleviate the PTSD symptoms that abuse victims suffer.
The Invisible War also caught the attention of researchers examining high-impact media projects for the California Endowment’s Communications Strategies That Fast Track Policy Change initiative. This project seeks to identify and share examples that “use media and communications grantmaking to create a more receptive environment for dialogue about potential solutions, build public will and generate political will for policy change.”
The Fast Track case study of the Invisible War notes that the film “resonates for all grantmakers who seek to give a disenfranchised population a voice and raise awareness of a complex social issue among federal policy makers and the public.” Click here to read the full case study.