ZERO DARK THIRTY - Movie Justification of Torture Protested Yesterday

Emeryville protest against Zero Dark Thirty, photo by Andrew Stelzer/KQED

by the SF Bay World Can't Wait Chapter

Emeryville, CA, Friday January 4:   At an AMC multiplex where Zero Dark Thirty opened in the Bay Area, World Can’t Wait and other activists (including Amnesty International and Code Pink) were there from the first showing into the evening, flyering and agitating around a statue-still man in Guantanamo jumpsuit, hood and chains. His signboard read: “Torture is ALWAYS illegal, immoral and unacceptable – Don’t Buy CIA Lies!”

Today’s SF Chronicle ran a front page large color photo of this “Guantanamo prisoner” with their major article (and more photos of our protest) about the ongoing commotion over the CIA’s role in the making of this film, with Senator Feinstein ordering the CIA to ‘fess up about what that entailed.

We talked to scores of moviegoers and many reporters, and gave out about 1000 flyers (there were 8 of us at the first show, and 9 in the evening). The audience going into the theater was receptive in the main – many people of all ages knew something about the controversy over this film and torture, most took a flyer, a few stopped to talk. One guy had heard of the controversy last month when Debra Sweet was interviewed about it on KPFA Flashpoints, and came now to support us. (FYI we also met a lot of people young and old who didn’t know what the jumpsuit was about, did not know the word Guantanamo, and knew nothing about the torture in question.)

When people were coming out after the film, their response was a lot more opinionated, and their polarization for and against our message was sharper. A lot of people told us in various ways that yes, they recognized the movie is glorifying the CIA and justifying torture as necessary to defeat terrorism. Many were also sympathetic to our fuller denunciation of torture as a war crime and crime against humanity, and our demand that war crimes and war criminals be brought to justice. But some – not nearly as many, but loud – told us off: they’d say torture is necessary, they approved because it’s protected “us,” and why didn’t we shut up and/or go protest the terrorists who want to kill us, etc.

This movie, somewhat of a societal controversy, is an important opportunity to seize on because it’s put these questions on the table as millions of Americans see it. It was good to encounter so many people who weren’t that sucked in by this (very slick yet somehow very old-fashioned “white hat cowboys/violent dark savages”) film, including the woman interviewed In the news video posted on the SF Chronicle website). But much more actual awareness and active opposition to torture and the whole bigger war crimes program around it is needed, so let’s do seize this moment to jump into and tear the controversy open even bigger!

MEDIA WRAP (so far):

  1. SF Chronicle front page article
  2. Short video from SF Chronicle
  3. We were prominently covered on Channel 2 KTVU news but it’s not yet on their website archive.
  4. KQED
  5. ABC –KGO Channel 7 TV news (they aired two parts, but #2 is not on their archive – it was lengthy commentary onsite by Sharon Adams)


**Naomi Wolf’s open letter to Kathryn Bigelow:

" …In a time of darkness in America, you are being feted by Hollywood, and hailed by major media. But to me, the path your career has now taken reminds of no one so much as that other female film pioneer who became, eventually, an apologist for evil: Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl's 1935 Triumph of the Will, which glorified Nazi military power, was a massive hit in Germany … ”

 Read full letter here at SF Bay World Can’t Wait website.

**Glenn Greenwald: Zero Dark Thirty: the Veneration of Torture and the C.I.A.

AND…. World Can't Wait is calling on people around the country to be at theaters, to say NO TORTURE IN OUR NAMES!  CLOSE GUANTANAMO and STOP ALL TORTURE NOW!  People have to protest — in direct, creative, and public ways — to expose and challenge the core message of this film: that torture "works."

Download and print our flier and take it with you to the film's opening near you
►Get palm cards for distribution
►Go to showings with fliers, posters and some friends donning orange jumpsuits

Post your protest to our event page and we will help connect you with others in your area who put humanity and the planet first. 

!!!!! Take photos and send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. !!!!!!

Join the discussion of ZDT and the protests on Facebook

Demonstrators Attend Opening Night of Zero Dark Thirty to Protest Torture from San Francisco Chronicle on Vimeo.

Film on Bin laden raid draws protests over torture (

'Zero Dark Thirty' Protesters Say It Glorifies Torture (

Protests are springing up against the film "Zero Dark Thirty," which opened in 25 cities on Friday, including Emeryville. Demonstrators outside a theater there warned that it inaccurately depicts torture as a helpful tool in hunting down the Al Qaeda leader.

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Main Reports on Protest & Resistance ZERO DARK THIRTY - Movie Justification of Torture Protested Yesterday


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.