Zero Dark Thirty is getting rave reviews here in the States, but Pakistan has its own opinion about the Oscar-nominated film based on the killing of bin Laden.
Even though the film has not been officially released there, don’t expect it to be shown in cinema halls anytime soon. Pakistan’s top movie critics have already trashed the film, stating that it doesn’t portray their country accurately.
President Obama ordered the Navy SEAL raid on bin Laden’s Pakistan compound without the nation’s blessing.
One critic, Nadeem F. Paracha, who writes for the Pakistani journal Dawn, has found that the movie suffers from sloppy details— the characters speaking Arabic (which isn’t the main language), and not properly showing real locations in the movie. As Paracha said in his review, “How can you make a Hollywood blockbuster, put in so much money and get simple things wrong? Instead of the film being taken seriously, it became a joke among Pakistanis.”
According to the Seattle Times, not even distributors in Pakistan have tried to import Zero Dark Thirty, nor do they plan on doing so.
Jamshed Zafar, one of the leading importers and distributors of foreign films in Pakistan, said he decided not to import the film after talking it over with friends. “If you get into such controversy, you not only lose money but your reputation is also at stake,” he said.
Pakistan audiences can still see Zero Dark Thirty in bootleg DVDs and Internet downloads. It wasn’t until mid-January that the film was available to view on DVD at local video stores in Islamabad. But two stores in the area have stopped selling the movie after hearing rumors that Zero Dark Thirty was banned.
In Abbottabad, where Osama was hiding before SEALs killed him and whisked his body off in a helicopter, DVDs of the movie were available but haven’t sold much. Many natives still don’t believe Osama was close by.
With Zero Dark Thirty doing well in the box office, the loss of Pakistan’s sales hasn’t worried producers. But will the shoddy filmmaking details pointed out by Pakistan critics affect the film’s Oscar chances.