Charles Lyons is an AwardsLine contributor.
Late last year, the acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Michael Morell, took the unusual measure of voicing the CIA’s distaste for a Hollywood film. “The film takes significant license, while portraying itself as being historically accurate,” Morell wrote in a letter to CIA personnel, later widely republished. “What I want you to know is that Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts.”
Of course, no one thought Sony’s Zero Dark Thirty was a documentary, but Morell’s letter speaks to the conundrum that any screenwriter crafting a script based on real events must confront: How to tell the story in a dramatically engaging way while remaining true to the facts.