Zero Dark Thirty is gaining more traction than it bargained for. Following complaints from a few top senators and the acting director of the CIA about the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the film, the Senate Intelligence Committee has started reviewing the contacts between the filmmakers, director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, and CIA officials.
The film, starring Jessica Chastain as a CIA investigator, is a dramatized depiction of the CIA’s hunt for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the subsequent Navy SEAL raid on his compound that would result in his death. Both the film and the filmmakers have come under significant fire in the wake of the film’s release for the use of torture in the film, prompting questions about the level of information to which they were made privy.
The investigation is aiming to discover whether or not officials gave the duo “inappropriate” access to secret information, according to Reuters. Investigators are also trying to determine if CIA contacts are responsible for giving the filmmakers the impression that torture techniques were a pivotal part of finding bin Laden.
One of the people who is on record as a contact for Bigelow and Boal is acting CIA director Michael Morell, who was the deputy director at the time of the raid. Though he recently spoke out against the film’s depiction of harsh interrogations — saying that while the CIA was consulted in the pre-production stages of the film, it could not “control the final product” — his involvement in the film is also coming under scrutiny.
Sony Pictures could not be reached for comment at the time of publication, but the studio did release this statement from Boal and Bigelow when the questions about the film first arose: This was a 10-year intelligence operation brought to the screen in a two-and-a-half-hour film. We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden. The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt, nor can any single scene taken in isolation fairly capture the totality of efforts the film dramatizes. One thing is clear: the single greatest factor in finding the world's most dangerous man was the hard work and dedication of the intelligence professionals who spent years working on this global effort. We encourage people to see the film before characterizing it.Zero Dark Thirty is in limited release, but will go wide on Jan. 11, undoubtedly with a burst of popularity thanks in great part to audience’s curiosity about its potentially classified contents. After all, since when is there such thing as bad publicity?
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[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures]