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Zero Dark Thirty was met with mostly positive reviews in the U.S. and around the world, even as American politicians criticized it for its depiction of torture. But the type of response it’s getting in Pakistan is overwhelmingly negative and it hasn’t even been released there yet. It has even been unofficially banned.
According to NBC News, headlines in Pakistan have included phrases like “Zero IQ Thirty” and “Very Zero, Very Dark,” as critics point out errors in the film’s depiction of Pakistan.
Last month, Dawn.com’s Nadeem F. Paracha wrote, “Though sharp in its production and direction and largely accurate in depicting the events that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden, it went ballistic bad in depicting everyday life on the streets of Pakistan.”
Paracha included a list of several errors in Kathryn Bigelow’s film, noting that Pakistanis do not speak Arabic and men don’t wear “17th and 18th century headgear in markets.”
While the government hasn’t banned the film, it is hard to see it in a theater, since major distributors there have not imported it yet. “As a local distributor, there was no financial viability for me. The film was already widely available in the [pirated] DVD market,” Cinepax’s Mohsin Yaseen told NBC. “But as a film buff, the movie was inaccurate about Pakistan. If you’re going to say something about a complicated part of the world, then you should say it right.”
Copies of the film on DVD have reached markets in Islamabad, but one shop owner told NBC that they had been asked to take it off their shelves.
Zero Dark Thirty is up for five Oscars, but the public criticisms the film took from politicians have hurt the film’s chances to come home with any wins. The film was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actress (Jessica Chastain), but Bigelow wasn’t nominated for Best Director.