Movie List
Loading ...
Find Theaters and Movie Times
Search Movies

The career of documentarian Kirby Dick begins with aspects of individual sexuality, in films like 1986's Private Practices: The Story of a Sex Surrogate and 1997's Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist. More recently, those interests have been conjoined with a desire for social justice in Twist of Faith (2004), a look into the lives of victims of pedophile priests; This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006), an investigation of the MPAA and the movie ratings system; and Outrage (2009), a study of closeted politicians with anti-gay agendas. These are documentaries that expose the cruelties of monolithic organizations and give the oppressed a chance to be heard. In his new film, Dick goes after the US military, which for decades has covered up the shocking prevalence of rape in every branch of the armed services. The film is so powerful that two days after Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta saw it he announced major reforms in how the military handles sexual-assault cases. Here's what Dick said when I interviewed him at the Provincetown Film Festival, where he received the Faith Hubley Memorial Award for career achievement, and The Invisible War won the audience award for Best Documentary.

THE EXTENT OF THIS PROBLEM IS BREATHTAKING, AND THE PAIN OF THE VICTIMS INTERVIEWED IS HEARTBREAKING. WHO IS TO BLAME? When I was doing the interviews — actually, my producer did the interviews with the survivors — you could see as the subjects were starting their narrative, as they were starting to talk about this person who was eventually going to assault them, you could see from the very beginning that this was a serial perpetrator at work, and they were getting set up. They would be posted someplace and it was like, "I got there, I was alone, I didn't know anybody, and this person with a higher rank befriended me" — bingo. The perpetrators would pick somebody who was isolated and set them up in this relationship so they could eventually assault them.

ARE MILITARY VALUES IN PART TO BLAME? ARE THE PERPETRATORS INDOCTRINATED INTO A MINDSET OF VIOLENCE? I don't think the perpetrators pick up their pathology in the service, but I think that the values taught there make it easier for them to operate. The ideal taught there is that "we're all brothers and sisters; you'll die for your fellow soldier." That ideal is very appealing, particularly for those recruits who may have been assaulted before or been abused before in a family and feel they are coming into a new family. They feel like they have finally found a safe spot, so their guard is even more let down, and they are especially vulnerable.

SO IS THE PROBLEM A FEW BAD APPLES? Well, many more than a few. But the bigger problem is not just that these assaults are committed by serial perpetrators but that the military has not really gone after them with the same will that it fights a war. Until the military goes after these serial perpetrators and investigates and prosecutes and incarcerates them, it's going to have this problem. That's really the message of the film. The military needs a very public and aggressive campaign to go after these serial rapists and send them the strongest message possible: if you do this, we'll put you in jail. That's how important this is: it's like being a traitor — you're gonna get shot.

1  |  2  |   next >
Related: Review: The Invisible War, Review: Katy Perry: Part of Me, Review: The Revisionaries, More more >
  Topics: Features , Movies, documentary, Kirby Dick,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   REVIEW: THE BIG PICTURE  |  October 24, 2012
    A word of advice to anyone who kills his wife's lover, fakes his own death, assumes the dead guy's name, and flees to a seaside Balkan town: leave the camera at home.
  •   REVIEW: HIGH GROUND  |  October 24, 2012
    In October 2010, 11 wounded Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans — blind, missing limbs, suffering from traumatic brain injury or PTSD — took part in "Soldiers to the Summit," a mission to climb Nepal's 20,000 foot Mt. Lobuche.
  •   REVIEW: CLOUD ATLAS  |  October 26, 2012
    The most disappointing film of the year, Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer's adaptation of David Mitchell's 2004 novel fails on nearly every level.
  •   JOHN HAWKES ON BODY LANGUAGE  |  October 24, 2012
    Ask any great actor — Robert De Niro, Christian Bale, Daniel Day-Lewis — if all that physical preparation is necessary for a great performance, and they'll say that sometimes you just have to put your body on the line.
  •   REVIEW: THE SESSIONS  |  October 24, 2012
    No other film this year pushes as many Academy buttons as Ben Lewin's adaptation of the true story of the Dorchester-born poet and writer Mark O'Brien, a paralyzed polio survivor who hired a sex surrogate to lose his virginity.

 See all articles by: PETER KEOUGH