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Along with the audience, the central character of the story, Maya, is parachuted into the hunt for bin Laden with the unsettling experience of a so-called "enhanced interrogation" session of an Al Qaeda detainee.

Maya's complex response to these very disturbing moments echoes our own.

"Putting it mildly, this is an extremely controversial subject. I wanted to try to capture the complexity of the situation, morally and psychologically. It's not an aesthetic goal of the film to settle scores, or end the debate about torture's efficacy - which is still ongoing, even within the community of people who advocated for it and implemented it," says Boal. "But it was part of the story and we needed to include it. The goal was to portray the events vividly and to make them real for the audience."

"On the other hand," he says, "towards the end of the film, we see that, ultimately, bin Laden's compound was found not through any of these techniques, but through a combination of bribery, traditional spy work and electronic surveillance.

When it came to shooting these sequences, Bigelow took a leap far outside her comfort zone. "As a human being I wanted to cover my eyes, but as a filmmaker, I felt a responsibility to document and bear witness," she says. "I felt I had to overcome my discomfort for the sake of telling the story.

Director of Photography Greig Fraser ACS also found it harrowing, but revealing, to shoot the interrogation scenes. "It was extremely difficult to watch, and they are not something I would like to do again," he confesses. "Even in simulation, it leaves a heavy burden on one's psyche. But these things happened and I think it's a testament to the film that it immerses you in every event equally."

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