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Mark Boal: Government Inquiry Into ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ ‘Crosses a Line’

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- During an interview for “This Week,” “Zero Dark Thirty” screenwriter and producer Mark Boal told Martha Raddatz that the current Senate inquiry into the Oscar-nominated movie could discourage the making of similar films in the future.

“I think that it could discourage other screenwriters or…writers of any kind from making topical movies, it could discourage studios from releasing them,” Boal said. “Criticism is fine, and we, I can take criticism onboard…but there is a difference between criticism and investigation. And I think that crosses a line that hasn’t been crossed really since the ’40s, when you talk about government investigating movies.”

In December, three members of the Senate Intelligence committee  — Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz. — asked the CIA to provide information about the details it gave Boal and “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow about the effort to find and later kill Osama bin Laden. The trio also sent a letter to Sony Pictures Entertainment – the studio that released the film – claiming that “Zero Dark Thirty” was “grossly inaccurate” in suggesting torture played a role in extracting information that would eventually lead to bin Laden.

On the criticism aimed at the film’s accuracy, Boal pushed back to a degree.

“These topics are controversial. I think the controversy in a lot of ways predates the film.  And I believe that we capture the essence of what happened and  so do many other people who have lived through it,” Boal said. “I approached the research the way I would’ve approached the research of any article or if I was writing a book.  But then there’s a second stage, which is you take that research and you compile it and transform it into a screenplay.  It’s dramatized.”

Joining Boal for the interview was Mark Bowden, best-selling author of “Blackhawk Down,” and the new book “The Finish” who said describing the film as journalism placed an “unfair burden” on it.

“I think it’s really an unfair burden of expectation to put on a feature film, to call it journalistic.  I mean, journalism is very detailed…you try to get down in the weeds and sort out exactly what happened, ” he said. “And I don’t think that a feature film is really a place where that happens.”

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