Feature: Jane Lynch, Paul Sorvino at 2013 Chicago Film Critics Awards Press Conference

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StarKori Cioca, Representing “The Invisible War”

The most moving moment in the ceremony occurred when Kori Cioca, a key subject in Kirby Dick’s “The Invisible War,” accepted the CFCA’s Best Documentary award on behalf of the filmmakers. She drove from Ohio in order to attend the event, and tearfully shared her experiences with the press and audience. “War” sheds light on the staggering number of soldiers raped in the U.S. military, and Cioca was one of many women who suffered abuse at the hands of her commanding officer in the Coast Guard. Along with 27 other soldiers, Cioca filed a lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates that was dismissed in December 2011. Her injuries included a dislocated jaw and she was discharged from the military without any medical insurance, inspiring philanthropists Barbara and Eric Dobkin to cover the full cost of Cioca’s surgery. When asked about her initial thoughts regarding the project, Cioca said she felt skeptical.

Kori Cioca
Kori Cioca at the Chicago Film Critics Awards, February 9th, 2013
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

“I was afraid that it was going to be anti-military and if it was, I was going to ask the [filmmakers] to leave my house, because I’m very pro-military,” Coica said. “When they got there, they explained to me their love of the military. They told me that they were outraged and wanted to make the system better for active duty members, so I agreed to do the movie. … I live in a small town and after the lawsuit got out, everyone knew what had happened. People would turn around and walk away from me. It was an awful feeling. During my interview with Kirby Dick and [producer] Amy Ziering, I looked up and they were crying along with me. I had never felt such love and support than in that moment, and I was confident in their mission to make change.”

Star”Emerging Filmmakers Award” Winners

Joining the stars at the press conference were two fresh faces practically bursting with potential. Director Mike Wytrykus and producer Ray Avid Lebon were honored the previous night when their animated short film, “Play Date,” won the CFCA’s first-ever Emerging Filmmaker Award. Film & Video Department Chair Bruce Sheridan joined the filmmakers to celebrate their achievement, as they were presented with a $5,000 check while an excerpt from their film played on the big screen. 

Emerging Filmmakers
Director Mike Wytrykus, Producer Ray Avid Lebon of ‘Emerging Filmmaker Award’ Winning Film ‘Playdate,’ with Columbia College (Chicago) instructor Bruce Sheridan
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

Lebon said that compromise was not only a major theme of her film, but also a key to the collaborative nature of the project. Flipping seamlessly between reality and a vibrant, pop culture-fueled dreamland, Wytrykus’ film explores the imaginations of a little boy and girl as they learn to play together. Ordinary playground staples such as swings and monkey bars are transformed into pirate ships and foreboding jungles. Though the film pays no direct homages to iconic blockbusters such as “Star Wars,” Wytrykus admits that they served as an influence.

“You have to start out imitating the filmmakers that inspire you in order to find your own voice,” Wytrykus said.

Contributing to this article is Matt Fagerholm and Brian Tallerico. The Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA) celebrates the heritage of cinema through their membership on TV, radio, newspapers and the web. Click here to go to the CFCA website for details on upcoming events.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2013 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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