Documentary Film Prize Recipient, 2013

Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering have been awarded the 2013 Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize for The Invisible War, a groundbreaking investigation into the troubling epidemic of rape in the US military. The film paints a startling picture of the extent of the problem — today, a female soldier in combat zones is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The Department of Defense estimates there were a staggering 19,300 service members sexually assaulted in 2010 alone.

Focusing on the powerful stories of rape victims, The Invisible War 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. It also features hard-hitting interviews with high-ranking military officials and members of Congress that reveal the perfect storm of conditions that exist for rape in the military, its long-hidden history, and what can be done to bring about much-needed change.

The Invisible War also reveals the devastating consequences of the reliance on chain of command in military life. While rape victims in the civilian world can turn to an impartial police force and judicial system for help and justice, rape victims in the military must turn to their commanders — a move that is all too often met with foot-dragging at best, and reprisals at worst. Many rape victims find themselves forced to choose between speaking up and keeping their careers. Little wonder that only eight percent of military sexual assault cases are prosecuted.

As A.O. Scott wrote in the New York Times, “This is a movie that cannot be ignored… Kirby Dick has become one of the indispensable muckrakers of American cinema.” And commenting on their decision, the Ridenhour judges said, “The Invisible War is an exposé of the shocking prevalence of rape within the US military, and the systemic failure of the armed forces to protect its service members from violent sex crimes. Informative, provocative, and heartrending, The Invisible War is investigative documentary film making at its best. Rarely has a documentary film more completely embodied the spirit of the award which is designed to recognize acts of truth-telling that protects the public interest and promote social justice.”

The Invisible War is a film by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, written and directed by Kirby Dick, and produced by Amy Ziering and Tanner Barklow.