Director Kathryn Bigelow zipped in and out of the well-attended Zero Dark Thirty screening Tuesday night here in Washington. While the invitation stated that there would be the screening “and discussion” with Bigelow and writer/producer Mark Boal, Bigelow was gone by the time of the Q&A with ABC’s Martha Raddatz. A person connected with the screening, who understands Washington as well as Hollywood, said Bigelow flew back to New York after introducing the film at the Newseum event and “left the rest of it to Mark.” He viewed her absence as smart in light of criticism of the film from senators John McCain and Dianne Feinstein and “for navigating an Oscar campaign.”
Initially the screening was scheduled to happen on December 4, but in late November that date was postponed to January 8, with no explanation. In the intervening time the film—which tracks the hunt for Osama bin Laden—collected a fair share of controversy, much of it from Capitol Hill.
Bigelow slipped quietly into the pre-screening reception in the Newseum’s main lobby, possibly from a side entrance rather than the front door, hanging close to Boal, who also worked with her on the film The Hurt Locker, which won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director for Bigelow and Best Original Screenplay for Boal. They are also rumored to be a couple. Before the screening they were escorted to the rope line at the building entrance to pose for a swarm of photographers. There were protesters outside on the sidewalk, carrying placards decrying torture—waterboarding is shown in the film—but they were not a large group, nor very vocal.
During the screening, Boal was spotted having dinner at the Source restaurant, which is next door, with actor Chris Pratt, who plays a Navy SEAL in the film, and others involved with the project. But no sign of Bigelow, who reportedly was already on her way to New York. Boal returned to the Newseum for the discussion.