Hurt Locker distributors face soldier’s lawsuit

Master Sergeant Jeffrey S. Sarver is due to file a multi-million dollar federal lawsuit on Wednesday (03Mar10) against The Hurt Locker film-makers, claiming the movie depicts his own experiences as the leader of an explosives disposal unit.

Sarver, 38, alleges The Hurt Locker screenwriter Mark Boal was allowed to travel with his unit in Iraq as part of an armed services press program.

Sarver’s attorney Geoffrey Fieger explains in a statement, “Virtually all of the situations portrayed in the film were, in fact, occurrences involving Master Sgt. Sarver that were observed and documented by screenwriter Boal.

“The suit alleges that, for reasons that can only be explained by greed, the movie’s screenwriter and makers decided to cheat Master Sgt. Sarver (a man who repeatedly risked his life for his country) out of financial participation in the film, and any acknowledgement of his heroic actions in Iraq. Master Sgt. Sarver only learned of the appropriation of his identity after the film’s release.”

A spokesperson for Summit Entertainment, the firm which distributed the film in America, has responded to the claims: “Ever since Summit acquired the distribution rights to the finished feature film The Hurt Locker during the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival we have been proud to showcase the film to audiences in the U.S. The film is a story about heroes depicting a fictional account of what brave men and women do on the battlefield. We have no doubt that Master Sgt. Sarver served his country with honour and commitment, risking his life for a greater good, but we distributed the film based on a fictional screenplay written by Mark Boal. We hope for a quick resolution to the claims made by Master Sgt. Sarver.”

Actor Jeremy Renner plays the role of Sergeant William James – the character allegedly based on Sarver – in the film, which has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, at Sunday’s (07Mar10) ceremony.