The second biggest ovation at the festival so far that I have heard occurred at the end of "The Invisible War," Kirby Dick's wrenching documentary about rape in the military, when the epilogue revealed that two days after seeing the film Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta instituted reforms in the way sexual crimes were to be investigated and prosecuted. That was followed by the festival's biggest ovation, when the audience stood and cheered Trina McDonald, a veteran who had been repeatedly raped by her comrades at a remote posting in Alaska.
She was just one of several former service members interviewed in the film who had been victimized. After years of silent anguish and futile attempts to attain justice or even proper medical treatment for their lingering psychic and physical wounds, they decided to tell their stories to Dick. Some went further, and joined together to press a class action suit against Panetta's predecessors Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates for their negligence and culpability. Unfortunately, as the epilogue also revealed, that lawsuit was denied. But an appeal is in process.
Though not traumatic and devastating like the cases in Dick's film, the anecdotes and recollections in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders's lighthearted documentary "About Face: The Supermodels, Then and Now" nonetheless hint at an oppressive system. An interesting complement to "Bert Stern: Original Madman," it is a deceptively breezy montage of supermodels from the 40s to the 80s reminiscing about the past, discussing body image and plastic surgery, and evaluating the pluses and minuses of their profession. Among those interviewed, Jerry Hall is a stitch, Isabella Rossellini is jolly, shrewd, and wise, and most regard their lives with blithe nostalgia rather than bitterness. But then you have someone like Paulina Porizkova, who was enlisted into the trade as an adolescent. "What people call [now] sexual harassment we called compliments," she says. "When a 16-year-old girl is flattered by a man pulling out his penis, that's noteworthy." Indeed.