Kirby Dick wants to make you angry.
In his new documentary The Invisible War, the filmmaker - whose credits include Sick: The Life & Death Of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist; Outrage and the Oscar-nominated Twist Of Faith - examines the institutional plague of rape within the American military, a crime both enabled and covered up by the fiercely protective closed-ranks mentality within the service.
We sat down when he brought the film to Hot Docs earlier this year; for much more of our conversation, please play the online audio clips.
I noticed a woman's voice asking questions off-screen. That's your producer Amy Ziering, right?
Amy did all the interviews with the survivors. We felt it would be a safer way to approach these interviews, with both women and men. And I think she did a phenomenal job. In some ways I feel like these interviews are the soul of the film.
And there are a lot of them - most docs would centre on two or three subjects, but you've got dozens.
We wanted to include so many people in the film so [viewers] would look at it as a systemic problem, not as a problem that happens to one, two, three, four or five people. What struck us as we did these interviews, over and over and over... the details were different, but it was basically the same arc. These people really believed in serving the country, had relatives in the military, had wonderful experiences initially, particularly in boot camp, and then were assaulted. They had the courage and the belief in the system to come forward and report it, and then the whole system turned on them.
The lack of support for these soldiers is really awful.
Not only do they lose their careers, they lose this profound trust and belief in a military they really loved. And the psychological damage is unbelievable; I've never really encountered anything like it. That's why I think these interviews were so important - it's kind of like Twist Of Faith. Until you see the pain and the damage that these incredible people are going through, you don't really understand how significant this issue is.
You've screened the film for politicians and military leaders in Washington. How are they responding to it?
Most leaders want to protect their troops. They want to take care of their troops. But they've looked at it in terms of statistics, and when they see these soldiers speaking [personally] like this, it really changes things. I've always thought of this as a film to change policy as well as a film to educate the public. For both Amy and me, it just became this personal cause.