Well this is sure to ruffle some feathers. Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, the filmmaking team behind the Oscar-winning war drama The Hurt Locker and the tremendous post-9/11 procedural Zero Dark Thirty, are looking to possibly turn the controversial story of Army soldier/POW Bowe Bergdahl into a feature film. If for some reason you haven’t been paying attention to the news, Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan after leaving his Army base, where he was subsequently tortured and held prisoner for five years. A little over two weeks ago, Bergdahl was released as part of a prisoner exchange with the Taliban, as the United States traded five Taliban members who were being held at Guantanamo Bay.
Hit the jump for more on the potential Bowe Bergdahl movie, which Bigelow and Boal have apparently been tracking for some time. [Update: Deadline has updated its story to report that Fox Searchlight is also developing a Bowe Bergdahl film of its own based on the non-fiction book America's Last Prisoner of War with In the Bedroom director Todd Field apparently involved.]
Per Deadline, Bigelow and Boal are in the early stages of planning a feature based on Bergdahl’s story, which Bigelow will direct. The project is coming together under Boal’s new production company Page One, which is backed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. Ellison, who also produced Zero Dark Thirty, will get a first look at Boal’s script for the Bergdahl film.
It’s unclear what specifically Bigelow’s film would focus on, but the report notes that she and Boal have been quietly tracking Bergdahl’s story for years with the intention of possibly turning it into a movie. They followed a similar path with Zero Dark Thirty, which had a completed script about the futile search for Osama Bin Laden and was moving forward into pre-production when the U.S. successfully took down the terrorist leader. Boal scrapped his existing script and wrote a new one, which tracked the hunt for Bin Laden and culminated in the SEAL Team Six raid on his Abbottabad compound.
The Bergdahl feature should provide plenty of fodder for pundits to argue over. The soldier faces potential desertion charges for abandoning his post, and tensions have run high through Washington and the cable news networks following his return. Given the confidence, intelligence, and tactfulness with which Bigelow and Boal tackled the Bin Laden hunt in Zero Dark Thirty, I’m very much looking forward to seeing what their take on the Bergdahl story entails.
This potential film could be a ways off though, as Bigelow is next set to direct another timely and promising project called The True American. Annapurna Pictures is producing the pic, which recounts the fascinating true story of a Bangladeshi immigrant who was maimed during an attack by a self-described “American terrorist” seeking revenge for 9/11. As the American sat on death row in Texas, the immigrant went to meet him face-to-face and ended up working to save his life. Tom Hardy is poised to star as the inmate, Mark Stroman, but a production start-date has not yet been announced.