Rape is not an easy subject to talk about, but it happens to thousands of men and women in the military every year – the Department of Defense estimates that there were 19,300 sexual assault victims in 2010 alone. Tonight Oscar and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick is breaking the silence by bringing his documentary on military assault,”The Invisible War,” to Facebook.
The film debuted at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, taking home the Audience Award for U.S. Documentary. It’s easy to see why:
At the core of the film are often heart-rending interviews with the rape survivors themselves—people like Kori Cioca, who was beaten and raped by her supervisor in the U.S. Coast Guard; Ariana Klay, a former Marine who served in Iraq before being raped by a senior officer and his friend, then threatened with death; and Trina McDonald who was drugged and raped repeatedly by military policemen on her remote Naval station in Adak, Alaska.
But getting an audience to sympathize with the film’s subjects is only the beginning. The challenge is getting people to talk about such a sensitive issue.
Facebook can be a powerful tool for enacting social change. In 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement got a lot of mileage out of its “We are the 99 percent” campaign, through which the message that an economic downturn affects us all spread from Tumblr’s blogging platform to the general audience on Facebook through pictures of everyday Americans holding up signs.
“The Invisible War” has already made an impact on policymakers. After Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta saw the film, he changed the investigation process to allow higher ranking officers to handle assault accusations instead of the unit commanders who worked closely with the victims. With the Facebook screening, the filmmakers are hoping to spark a dialogue among voters.
Rather than a second screen experience where the conversation is held separately from the action, Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. is using Milyoni‘s (pronounced “million eye”) video-on-demand platform, Celebrity Cinema, to show the movie on viewers’ Facebook walls. The social platform will make it possible to talk during the movie without being rude. (It’s hard to “shush” an instant message.) Viewers will also be able to share clips and quotes from the film with their friends while they watch. After the screening, director will stick around for a live Q&A session.
“I’m so excited by the potential that this innovative social media campaign has to actually make things happen at the grassroots, and eventually, policy levels,” said Dick in a statement. “The visceral reaction to this movie surpasses anything I’ve ever experienced before as a filmmaker and I’m thrilled that Cinedigm and Milyoni have made our film the centerpiece of such an audacious and significant social media project.”
The screening begins September 17 at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT on Facebook and runs through September 23.