In 12 months, “The Invisible War” has racked up a slew of accolades. The documentary won awards at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Dallas International Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival and the Provincetown International Film Festival.
It also picked up the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival when it premiered in 2012.
“The Invisible War” focuses on a topic – sexual assault in the military – which makes people uncomfortable.
To learn more about the new documentary project, “Justice Denied,” visit www.justicedeniedmovie.com
A few weeks ago, the film picked up an Academy Award nomination for best documentary and buzz over the film has grown, bringing the issue into a national spotlight.
Albuquerque resident Michael F. Matthews is the lone male featured in the documentary.
“I’m excited that the film is doing well,” he says. “From the moment it debuted at Sundance, I told the director to be prepared for this. He didn’t believe me and here we are talking about an Oscar-nominated film. I’m happy that the film is getting great exposure because this is a serious issue.”
Matthews tells his story of getting raped while he was in the Air Force.
After joining the military when he was 18, his was assigned to his first post at Whiteman Air Force Base in near Knob Noster, Mo. Assigned to working nights in the missile complex, he would walk back to the barracks after work.
“I got knocked down from behind and hit with something heavy,” he explains. “As I was waking up, I was being held down by two individuals and the third was pulling my pants down.”
For nearly 30 years, Miller never talked about the incident. Even his wife, Geri Lynn Weinstein-Matthews, didn’t know about it until 20 years into her marriage.
“It was something we worked on together,” she explains. “It was a very difficult situation and not many men talk about it, but it’s happening.”
With the Oscar nomination, Weinstein-Matthews is hoping that the issues comes to the forefront of society’s conversation.
The sexual assault of women in our military has been a familiar topic for decades. But male-on-male sexual assaults in the military has been silenced.
Matthews says being involved in “The Invisible War” wouldn’t have happened without director Kirby Dick taking the time to listen.
He says Dick was, at first, creating the documentary to focus on sexual assault of women.
“I’m the only male featured in the documentary and it’s because Kirby felt like I had a story to tell,” he says. “I’m telling my story to make a difference. I don’t want stardom or fame from this. I just want to tell the story.”
While “The Invisible War” is starting to take off, Weinstein-Matthews is on her way with a documentary called, “Justice Denied.”
She is working with local filmmaker Michael L. Miller of 9 Point Productions.
“I felt like ‘The Invisible War’ was a wonderful opportunity for men to come forward and tell their story,” she explains. “What I want to do is expand upon and focus on the number of male sexual assaults and how they have risen in time.”
Weinstein-Matthews says before she started the project, she wanted to get a “go-ahead” from Dick.
“Kirby did give me his blessing and told me to tell a great story,” she says. “I didn’t want to take anything away from his film because it’s strong and packs a great message.”
Matthews says while his wife is the driving force behind “Justice Denied,” he continues to participate in speaking engagements in order to keep the topic at the forefront of people’s minds.
“Rapes continue to happen every day and many of them aren’t reported,” he says. “I think we have to get the public involved in order to get things changed. We have to discuss how to change the policy.”
Weinstein-Matthews says it was important to work with a production team from New Mexico.
“We’re from New York but have been in New Mexico so long that it’s our home,” she says. “We have a strong film community that supports each other and we want to support them as well.”
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