The Report, a new film from writer/director Scott Z. Burn, depicting the researcher who worked to name names and expose the gritty details of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City Saturday night. Produced by Steven Soderbergh, the film follows Daniel J. Jones, played by Adam Driver, a researcher for the Senate who spent five years leading a team of investigators writing a report on the CIA’s torture program and later fighting for it to be released to the public.
In the film, Jones uncovers the extent of the CIA program, its approval by top officials in the executive branch and in the CIA, the CIA’s attempts to cover up the grisly details of the program, and their PR campaign to try to get ahead of public opinion and justify the program in the court of public opinion.
The film specifically refutes the notion, allegedly put forth by the CIA, that the torture program ever produced any actionable intelligence. The film describes a coordinated publicity campaign by the CIA to convince the public that the program had contributed intelligence that, among other things, led to the assassination of Osama Bin Laden in 2011.
In one scene the film calls out Zero Dark Thirty by name, the 2012 film from director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, for helping to push the faulty narrative that a tortured prisoner gave up valuable information leading to Bin Laden’s courier. In another, Driver as Jones ridicules the TV show 24, and the idea that Jack Bauer could learn about terrorist plots by threatening to stab detainees.