‘Enemy in the Ranks’: Latina-Directed and Produced Film About Military Sexual Trauma

Oct 29, 2021
9:59 AM

Triste Ordex, a mother, U.S Marine Corps veteran, and national organizer for Vets for the People (Shelby Tauber/Amanda Sarabia Productions)

My passion for filmmaking began with “Orgullo,” a piece dedicated to undocumented immigrant mothers, fathers, and the blameless children jostled around by ICE raids, which won Best Music Video at the Bowery Film Festival and was featured on Latino Rebels. My latest project, the documentary Enemy in the Ranks, was selected for the Sundance Film Festival 7th Annual Latino Hub Section. My work is a testament to the pride and dedication that I feel for my Latino community. I love working and creating stories that educate, celebrate cultura, and have a social impact.

The seeds of Enemy in the Ranks were planted on July 25, 2020, when Mitú hosted a special #IAmVanessaGuillen event on Facebook. On that day I heard the voices of Triste Ordex, Krysta Phoumiphat, Armando Perez, and many other veterans and active-duty service members sharing their stories about military sexual trauma. I remember watching them and being so inspired by their voices. I wanted to figure out how to make them last forever. I called my brother Sevie and my best amiga and writer Abigail Vela, and we began to go to work!

Enemy in the Ranks is a feature-length documentary that follows Triste Ordex, a veteran, survivor, and outspoken powerhouse who continues the fight for justice against the military by speaking up about military sexual trauma after the murder of Latina Army soldier Vanessa Guillén. Not only have sexual assault and rape cases been dismissed within the military time and time again, but the awareness of her disappearance was much too late. Learning of Guillén’s murder and the silence around it inspired me to round up my team of trusted collaborators and create this documentary.

The project is dear to my heart, and I believe it will benefit an aspect of our society that needs radical change. Triste and the various other veteran survivors that I’ve had the privilege to meet over the past year have immensely inspired and impacted my life. They have taught me that our time and voices on this earth are the most precious resources we have. They have made me realize that as filmmakers, our superpower is storytelling. And through my storytelling, I will fight for my veteran survivors in the same way that they keep fighting for change within the military —with courage, passion, and as Triste likes to say, “taking up space.”

Change only happens when there is awareness. We believe that visual media, especially film and television, offer a way to educate the masses. We hope this documentary will serve the purpose of engaging audiences about military sexual trauma and helping to prevent it from occurring in the future. This documentary is for the military, the general public, and ultimately for sexual assault awareness and education.

Although this project has taken a little over a year in the making, it is not over. Our team has grown to include passionate filmmakers wishing to create a positive change in the world. We have traveled from New York to Texas to Florida and met numerous times through Zoom over the year. Our team has worked hard to fundraise for Enemy in the Ranks through GoFundMe, grants, and a comedy for a cause event in Brooklyn hosted by Dylan Akira Adler, all of which have helped us with travel expenses, equipment, editing costs, and more.

We are currently looking for passionate investors and producers who wish to hop on this journey with us and take this project to the next level. Our goal is to establish more funding for this project to continue filming and editing and send it off to film festivals throughout the nation! If you are interested in producing or investing in Enemy in the Ranks, I invite you to contact me directly.

This project means the world to me and the team, and our only hope is that it reaches audiences far and wide and opens their eyes to the realities of the veterans we honor.

Follow our journey via our blog and other projects at Amanda Sarabia Productions.

Find our team & partners on Instagram:

Ana Vasquez, Director, @_analand
Abigail Vela, Writer/Story Producer, @avidreamsofart
Taha Long, Line Producer, @tahalong
Dylan Golden, Director of Photography, @dylangolden305
Sevie Sarabia, Researcher/Producer, @seviesarabia
Jerry Garcia, Camera B, @garciamediaservices

Triste Ordex, U.S Marine Corps Veteran, @tristewashere
Krysta Phoumiphat, Active Duty U.S Air Force, @krystaphoumiphat
Kimberly Sciutto, U.S Army Veteran, Invisible Combat, @invisiblecombat
Vets for the People, @vetsforthepeople


Amanda Sarabia is a Mexican-American producer and educator from South Texas now living in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in documentaries and commercial work. She is the executive producer of Enemy in the Ranks, a documentary about military sexual trauma. Instagram: @amandasarabia