“Zero Dark Thirty’ will not screen in Pakistan, as distributors fear inciting the ire of the Pakistani military and terrorist groups.
The Guardian reports that the Kathryn Bigelow film is also too “touchy” for Pakistani censors. One distributor cites a previous experience in which censors demanded so many changes be made to a comedy about Osama bin Laden that the movie was rendered unwatchable.
The news comes amid a full-court press on Bigelow’s part. Though “Zero Dark Thirty” received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, Bigelow is not nominated for Best Director (she previously won that category for “The Hurt Locker”). It was a snub heard around the film world, and many point to the controversy surrounding the movie as the reason the Academy’s voters shied away from Bigelow’s name.
“Zero Dark Thirty” traces the efforts of the CIA and focuses heavily on what the George W. Bush administration referred to as “advanced interrogation techniques.” There are graphic torture scenes in which characters are water-boarded and otherwise abused. A character who is tortured eventually gives a crucial tip that leads to the capture and killing of bin Laden — a plot detail that has drawn harsh condemnation from senators and administration officials.
Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal ardently defend the film’s veracity while also arguing that it is an apolitical work of art. While many scoff at the idea that a movie about a recent event in the war on terror can truly be separated from today’s politics, Boal and Bigelow recently found an unlikely supporter in Michael Moore.
In a blog on The Huffington Post, Moore notes that, in the movie, it is not until Barack Obama orders torture be stopped that the characters get down to the “detective work” that eventually leads them to bin Laden. “Eight years of torture — no bin Laden,” he writes. “Two years of detective work — boom! Bin Laden!”
All in all, the Pakistani distributors’ decision not to screen the film may be for moot. The BBC reports that illegal DVDs of “Zero Dark Thirty” are already wildly popular with Pakistanis.