One of the more contentious news stories of the last couple of weeks has been the release of Army soldier/POW Bowe Bergdahl by the Taliban in Afghanistan in exchange for five prisoners being held in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. But as pundits and politicos inside the Beltway weigh in on the matter, there are two competing film projects based on Bergdahl’s story being readied in Hollywood.
The first of these projects is being developed by someone who is no stranger at taking military current event stories from that part of the world and turning them into compelling cinema – Kathryn Bigelow. The Zero Dark Thirty director is reteaming with that film’s screenwriter Mark Boal to explore the possibility of putting Bergdahl’s story onto the big screen.
Much like how they had tracked the story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden and were already in the process of writing a screenplay when the raid that took the terrorist leader’s life happened, Bigelow and Boal have been reportedly following the Bergdahl story for some time with the intention of turning it into a movie. The project would be produced under the banner of Boal’s new production company Page One, which receives funding from producer Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. As such, Ellison, who also produced Zero Dark Thirty, has first dibs on the screenplay for this film.
If Bigelow and Boal do decide to go forward on this project, it will have to film after she wraps work on her next project, The True American. Gearing up for a possible shoot later this year, the film will tell the true life story of a Bangladeshi immigrant injured in a revenge attack by a self-proclaimed “American terrorist” following 9/11. After the man, who will be played by Tom Hardy, was sentenced to die by a Texas court, the immigrant met him face-to-face and eventually worked to free him from death row. However, Boal could certainly work on the screenplay for the Bergdahl project while Bigelow is on set with this film.
Meanwhile, Fox Searchlight has acquired the rights to the 2012 Rolling Stone article “America’s Last Prisoner Of War,” written by investigative journalist Michael Hastings. Hastings died in an automobile accident last year in Los Angeles, and his death spawned a number of conspiracy theories that were quickly debunked. Reportedly, In The Bedroom director Todd Field is attached to the project.
Bergdahl, raised and home schooled in Idaho by his devoutly religious parents, reportedly walked off the Army post he was stationed at in Afghanistan, only to be captured by the Taliban and held as the only US POW by them for five years. There are still many unanswered questions about Bergdahl and his actions, despite what many in the punditsphere seem to think. And as those questions are investigated and answered in the months to come, there will be some impact on how and even if these two projects go forward.