Oscar nomination for film that won praise from US president


British television and film producer Teddy Leifer, 29, has received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary with his film The Invisible War.

The Kilburn resident and member of New London Synagogue is one of the few British Jews to be honoured by the Academy this year. Mr Leifer was an executive producer on the film, released across America last June.

The documentary, written and directed by Kirby Dick, explores the topic of sexual assault in the US military. According to the film, there were 3,158 cases of sexual assault reported within the US military in 2011.

Mr Leifer said: “The most important thing about this film is that it can trigger change. It has been very gratifying to see it starting to seep in and having an effect. The US is a noisy place with a lot going on so it requires a piece of powerful material to focus people’s minds on what is, without doubt, an epidemic.

“As early as April last year President Obama issued a statement calling for sexual assault to be thoroughly investigated and offenders held accountable, as a result of the film, and that was the first ever statement on the issue of sexual assault in the military. Every one of his Joint Chiefs of Staff have also now seen the film.”

Mr Leifer added: “It is now estimated that ten per cent of the armed forces have seen the film. Republican Buck McKeon, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, has scheduled a committee hearing on sexual assault and this is the first time this has ever happened.

“The nomination is incredibly helpful. The Academy Awards are a powerful thing in this respect.”

Mr Leifer, once a member of Noam youth movement, founded his production company, Rise Films, in 2007 and has since produced programmes for both UK and US television with features on BBC, Channel 4, PBS and HBO.

Mr Leifer will be attending the Academy Awards for the first time on February 24. “I am very excited, although I haven’t given much thought about it. We are too busy getting the word out at the moment,” he said.

The Invisible War will be up against four other films for the Oscar, including two Israeli-made documentaries — 5 Broken Cameras and The Gatekeeper.

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