Senate Drops 'Zero Dark Thirty' Probe

 

After a night of Oscars disappointment, the Senate Intelligence Committee has abandoned its investigation into Zero Dark Thirty.

Long before the film -- which stars Jessica Chastain as a CIA agent leading America's pursuit and ultimate killing of al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden -- even hit theaters, senators raised questions about whether director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal had obtained from the CIA information about the wild hunt across the Middle East. Now, Reuters reports that the committee has decided to close its investigation into the film, which lost in the best picture, best original screenplay and best actress categories Sunday night.

STORY: Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal Fire Back at 'Zero Dark Thirty' Investigation and Torture Debate

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., John McCain, R-Ariz., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., launched an investigation into Bigelow and Boal's connection with the CIA, and whether the agency had told them that torture had led to useful terrorist-hunting leads. The film's depiction of torture as part of the CIA's approach to obtaining intelligence needed to catch the terrorist drew further scrutiny. Emails made public show that CIA leaders met with Bigelow and Boal, though no wrong doing has been admitted.

The movie became the subject of political football, with groups such as Amnesty International slamming it for depicting enhanced interrogation in the first scenes of the film, while others, including Michael Moore, said that it served to show the cruelty of water boarding and other methods of torture.

At the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, the filmmakers responded to their critics.

STORY: The Mysteries (and Broken Curse) of Jessica Chastain

"I thankfully want to say that I’m standing in a room of people who understand that depiction is not endorsement, and if it was, no artist could ever portray inhumane practices," Bigelow said to applause from the press and peers assembled at the Crimson Club in Manhattan. "No author could ever write about them, and no filmmaker could ever delve into the knotty subjects of our time."

Later that night, Boal told The Hollywood Reporter that the film was a work of fiction, not journalism, even if it claims to be based on true events.

"It’s a movie. I’ve been saying from the beginning it’s a movie," Boal said. "That shouldn’t be too confusing. It’s in cinemas, and if it’s not totally obvious, a CIA agent wasn’t really an Australian [Jason Clarke] that was on a lot of TV shows, and Jessica Chastain isn’t really a CIA agent; she’s a very talented actress. But I think most American audiences understand that."

Later in January, Chastain, who won the Golden Globe for best actress in a motion picture-drama but lost to best actress to Jennifer Lawrence at the Oscars, stood behind the movie.

"To be honest, in my opinion, if the movie came out and everyone backed it up completely, then that makes me wonder, 'Is that the right story?'" she said. "But I think that which perhaps makes people nervous and creates a conversation is probably a film that needs to be made. And I applaud Kathryn Bigelow for her bravery in that, and telling the story that they researched and discovered."

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