Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty Launches A Government Investigation
5:30 pm, January 3rd | by Meredith Lepore
I think we just came up with the plot of Kathryn Bigelow’s next film. According to recent reports, the Senate Intelligence Committee is launching an investigation into the CIA to see if they gave “inappropriate” access to the filmmakers of the Zero Dark Thirty. This is mostly due to the film’s featuring of CIA agents using torture tactics on POWs, that have been called controversial to say the least. The committee will look into records of director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal’s communications with agents, including Michael Morell, who is considered the favorite to succeed David Petraeus as the agency’s director, according to Reuters.
The CIA did denounce the film, calling the interrogation scenes “a dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of facts,” but they are still taking heat from both sides of the aisle. Pre-election day, some conservatives, including John McCain (R-Ariz.) complained that the Obama administration had been allowing CIA access to Bigelow’s team in hopes of garnering support for his campaign, but now some Dems including Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) are also coming out against the torture scenes in the film, with Feinstein even heading the Committee that will investigate the ZDR/CIA relationship.
The three senators claim that the film clearly implies that the CIA’s torture techniques (which are horribly painful to watch) were effective in leading the agency to bin Laden. The filmmakes have stated that the movie is definitely a dramatized interpretation and not accurate retelling of the 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden but even so, it’s clear from the volume of government e-mails and memoranda released that both the CIA and Pentagon gave the filmmakers extensive access.
If the CIA did leak classified information to the filmmakers the key players could face prison time and major monetary fines. Sony, in response, released a statement from Bigelow and Boal, which read:
“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.”
Boal said in an email that he was unaware of the Senate committee’s interest and had had no contact with the panel.
On the bright side, possible jail time and government involvement only makes this film stronger Oscar bait.