Zero Dark Thirty debuts at Newseum with controversy

Human rights protesters at the premier party of "Zero Dark Thirty" in Washington. Photo: Van Applegate

Protesters tried to disrupt the D.C. premiere of Zero Dark Thirty Tuesday night. The big names surrounding the film took part in the premiere at the Newseum, but lawmakers and other critics are upset over what they call inaccuracies over how U.S. forces caught and killed Osama bin Laden.

The movie was supposed to highlight what is arguably the biggest victory for the military and intelligence communities in a decade, but instead it’s igniting a national debate over torture.

A decade-long manhunt, the capture and killing of bin Laden, is laid out in Zero Dark Thirty, the new film from Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow.

But even before the film hit theaters, it’s courting serious controversy, even from Capitol Hill.

"You believe when watching this movie that waterboarding and other torture produced information led to the elimination of Osama bin Laden. That's not the case,” says Senator John McCain, (R) Arizona.

But at Tuesday night’s premiere, Bigelow defends her decision to show waterboarding and sleep deprivation as means to track down and kill bin Laden.

Bigelow says she is surprised by the number of lawmakers who have waded into remarking on the controversial film. She thinks it’s a testament to the film itself and stands behind it.

But the outrage over the showing of enhanced interrogation techniques isn’t confined to the halls of Congress. Demonstrators donning Guantanamo Bay style jumpsuits protested outside the premiere, but the screenwriter insists it was imperative for accuracy.

“To leave that out I think would have been not just an artistic mistake but would be whitewashing history,” says Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter.

And the history component lends itself to yet another controversy as lawmakers are investigating just how much access the Hollywood heavyweights were given to CIA locations and operatives.