'Zero Dark Thirty' creators defend film from torture criticism

If Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal are nervous about "Zero Dark Thirty" opening in D.C. while the Senate probes whether the CIA leaked classified information about the Osama bin Laden raid, the controversial movie's director and screenwriter aren't admitting to it. 

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The movie, which opens nationwide Friday, has reinvigorated the debate on the efficacy of torture. Critics say the film portrays torture as having been a useful tool in finding bin Laden.

Bigelow and Boal have been dogged by questions about torture in the film since the movie's early release began. 

On Tuesday night, during a screening of the movie at the Newseum, protesters outside lined the windows dressed in orange prison jumpsuits and black hoods with signs saying "Torture is Immoral" and "ZD30 Fantasy Torture Propaganda."

On the red carpet, Boal was asked if he was surprised by Washington's response to the film thus far. 

"It hasn't even opened in D.C. yet. So I would love to have this conversation with you after the opening weekend in D.C., because I think there are a lot of people in this town who are going to be interested in the movie," Boal said. 

"I hope there are. Because what the movie really does is shines a spotlight on people who work in D.C. as civil servants who often don't get a lot of credit for the work they do. And so I expect the movie to do reasonably well here."

Pressed further on the Senate investigation into the movie, Boal said the focus on torture stemmed from debates pre-dating the film. 

"It's a little bit above my pay grade," Boal said. "But to my understanding some of this controversy probably pre-dates the film and these are controversial topics and it's part of the discussion in the political arena."

Bigelow digressed when asked a similar question about torture in the movie. 

"I think everyone's entitled to their own opinion and there's certainly more complexity to that 10-year hunt, but what I'm most proud of is that the film sheds light on the individuals — the professionals in the intelligence community that spent 10 years, dedicated their lives, some of whom sacrificed their lives, to this operation," Bigelow said. 

During a question-and-answer session after the movie, former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), now the chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, said focusing on the film's portrayal of torture missed the point of the movie. 

"This was a great moment. This was with remarkable people. At the CIA and the pentagon. These young soldiers who after 10 and a half years did something that all of us hoped would happen," said Dodd, who was interviewing Boal and "Zero Dark Thirty" actor Chris Pratt. 

"And the fact that we're sitting here, bickering a bit about whether or not this scene or two of this movie, which some people think captured an acknowledgement or acceptance of a certain strategy, I think misses the point entirely. I think in years to come, this film will be a way that an awful lot of people will recognize the incredible efforts of some remarkable Americans whose names they will never ever know and never get the chance to personally thank for what they did."