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The Invisible War

The Invisible War is a groundbreaking investigative documentary about the shameful and underreported epidemic of rape within the US military. With stark clarity and escalating revelations, The Invisible War exposes the rape epidemic in the armed forces, investigating the institutions that perpetuate it as well as its profound personal and social consequences. We meet characters who embraced their military service with pride and professionalism, only to have their idealism crushed. Focusing on the emotionally charged stories of survivors, the film reveals the systemic cover-up of the crimes against them and follows their struggles to rebuild their lives and fight for justice. The Invisible War features hard-hitting interviews with high-ranking military officers and members of Congress that reveal the perfect storm conditions that exist for rape in the military, its history of cover-up, and what can be done to bring about much needed change. 2013 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature


Renowned cinematographer and filmmaker Nestor Almendros (1930–1992) was a founder of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, actively involved in the selection of films and the promotion of human rights filmmaking. Even while deeply immersed in his own projects, he took the time to call the Festival team to mention a strong documentary or promote a work-in-progress. Believing in the power of human rights filmmaking, Nestor devoted himself to becoming a mentor to many young filmmakers. It is in the Festival's loving memory of Nestor and our desire to celebrate his vision that we proudly bestow this award to filmmakers for their exceptional commitment to human rights.

The Festival is delighted to present Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering—filmmakers of The Invisible War—with our 2012 Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking.

In 2011, Human Rights Watch documented rape during both wartime and peace time in Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, Turkey, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2006, a landmark United Nations report on global violence against women concluded that women and girls are at risk of rape from their partners, members of their families and communities, police officers, soldiers and other state officials. They experience sexual violence during war and political upheaval but also in societies with no conflict. Many women and girls who are raped receive no health care or other services they need to heal physical and psychological wounds. Impunity for sexual violence is rife and few women receive justice.