'Zero Dark Thirty' unofficial ban in Pakistan

Posted By Kristen Butler, UPI.com  |  Feb. 21, 2013 at 10:13 AM
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Hollywood thriller "Zero Dark Thirty" hasn't been officially distributed in Pakistan, but through bootleg and pirated copies the film has been watched, criticized and unofficially banned. Pakistan's mainstream press was critical but balanced. “Though sharp in its production and direction and largely accurate in depicting the events that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden,” wrote columnist, Nadeem Farooq Paracha, in Dawn newspaper. “It went ballistic bad in depicting everyday life on the streets of Pakistan.”

The country’s major movie companies decided not to buy the film from international distributors. Mohsin Yaseen, general manager of Cinepax, the largest multiplex chain in Pakistan, told NBC the country’s major movie companies decided not to buy the film from international distributors.

“As a local distributor, there was no financial viability for me. The film was already widely available in the [pirated] DVD market. 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.”

Some in the local film distribution industry think the "ban" is being overhyped ahead of the Oscars. Nadeem Mandviwalla, chief executive of Mandviwalla Entertainment said "there are tons of movies that don’t make it here. And it was bad business modeling to bring this movie to Pakistan."

But a shop owner in Islamabad told a different story. “There were four of them. Two stood outside, as if on guard, and two came inside and told us that 'Zero Dark Thirty' was banned,” said the man who asked not to be named. “They said they were from Aabpara [the local neighborhood that headquarters the ISI]. They asked us to send the DVDs back to the warehouse, and they took a few discs back for themselves. They were very polite."

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