On Sunday, April 22 in Toronto, Mariia Berlinska, Andriana Susak, Yulia Matvienko and Iryna Tsilyk will be presenting the film and sharing their stories in with Canadians for the first time, hitting Montreal and Ottawa between April 28 and 30, and then moving on to Washington DC, Chicago and New York.
The title of the documentary is symbolic, since the role of women in the Ukrainian Armed Forces is only starting to be officially recognized.
Invisible Battalion is a documentary about Ukrainian women who gave up their comfortable lives for taking part in the war against Russian occupation of the Donbas (Eastern Ukraine).
A powerful advocacy campaign for gender equality in the Armed Forces of Ukraine was initiated. Both, as a result of the campaign, and as a result of the pressure from the society and different international organizations, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine expanded the number of military jobs (63 in total) available to women (Directive #292 “On expanding military jobs for soldier, sergeant, and officer staff). However, even now 2/3 of soldier and officer jobs are still unavailable to women. Moreover, women do not have equal access to military education and careers.
Thus, the Invisible Battalion social project turned into a full-length documentary Invisible Battalion: six stories of six women who were (or are) combatants in the Donbas war. Three female directors – Iryna Tsilyk, Alina Gorlova, and Svitlana Lischynska – offer female perspectives on war that are bluntly honest. This documentary is a female vision of war.
“First, what we had in mind was to record our history and the role our women combatants played in these historical events.
Second, we aimed at ruining the bureaucracy wall in the military. This is absolutely appalling to have old Soviet era limitations for women to be part of professional Armed Forces in the XXI century while in the best armies of the world women (from private to general) carry out professional military duties and take part in strategic decision-making in security and defense. Thus, cinema is a perfect means to educate society on these issues. Finally, last, but not least (and a very important one to me personally) reason why we made this film is the fact that we are on the losing side in the information warfare at the moment. This documentary is called to demonstrate it is not civil conflict, but Russian occupation and aggression we have been fighting against for the last four years. The film tells the stories of how our women get killed and wounded, how they fight on par with men, and how they surpass the Russian military. What we need is not “deep concerns”, but real help.”
The message that Invisible Battalion sends is universal. The documentary provides a valuable insight into the issue of recognition of women's role in the military globally.