After being condemned by the CIA, investigated by the Senate and picked apart by every arm chair movie critic in America, Zero Dark Thirty just premiered in Washington DC, and -- surprise, surprise! -- there were protesters. The film's director Kathryn Bigelow, writer Mark Boal and a number of lawmakers were greeted by at least a dozen activists wearing neon orange jumpsuits and black hoods outside the Newseum on Tuesday night. This is not your normal breed of picket-pumping protesters. These guys, evidently organized by Amnesty International, invoked still-haunting images from Guantanamo and pointed directly at Zero Dark Thirty's controversial torture scenes. Several held a banner that read simply "Cruel, Inhuman & Degrading." Another held up a sign that branded the film as a "Pentagon-sanctioned movie." They're not too far off, either.
Inside, one couldn't help but wonder if this sort of sidewalk activism is exactly what Bigelow was hoping for. In introducing the speech, Bigelow said that she and Boal were "truly awed by the remarkable national conversation that this movie has spurred" and that "nothing is more flattering, humbling and intimidating than creating a film that inspires thoughtful dialogue and debate on topics that are relevant and important." She also admitted that they "had no agenda in making this film and were not trying to generate controversy." You can't buy publicity like a dozen Amnesty types mocking the U.S. government to its face in front of a bunch of lawmakers and journalists, though.
As many have pointed out, the fun is just beginning with Zero Dark Thirty. The movie hits theaters nationwide on January 11, and only then will we actually get to hear what everyday American think about the dramatization of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. It certainly hasn't hurt ticket sales that critics have given the impression that viewers will also get a glimpse into the darkest corners of our country's national security efforts either. Theater goers love dark corners.