The 2013 First Amendment Week keynote speaker will be Oscar-winning screenwriter and producer Mark Boal. Boal will address the First Amendment in Burns Back Court on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m.
Boal is the mastermind behind the screenplays of the critically acclaimed films “In the Valley of Elah” and “The Hurt Locker,” which earned Boal his two Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. “The Hurt Locker” also garnered Kathryn Bigelow the Academy Award for Best Director, which marked the first – and, to date, only – time a woman has won the award.
Boal’s most recent and controversial filmic work, Oscar-nominated “Zero Dark Thirty,” has earned the undivided attention of critics, moviegoers and even the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Before Boal was an award-winning screenwriter and producer, he was a journalist and reported for various publications such as Rolling Stone, The Village Voice and Playboy. Boal’s experience from his journalism career and his time spent working with troops and bomb squads in Iraq in 2004 inspired his politically grounded movies.
According to Loyolan Editor in Chief Adrien Jarvis, a senior communication studies major, his films are unique in that they present a certain perspective of contextual, historical truth, while still telling an epic narrative. She said, “‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is a film that has been credited as being really factual. ... He’s written two films about the wars that are known as the wars that no one knows about. … The exposure he gives [the wars] isn’t untrue; it sticks to what’s actually happening.”
Boal’s keynote speech, sponsored by both the Loyolan and ASLMU, is the second and highlight event of First Amendment Week. Previous keynote speakers have included a variety of luminaries, from John Legend to James Carville.
Loyolan Assistant Managing Editor Brigette Scobas, a junior communication studies major, said Mark Boal’s speech will be relevant to students. “He will touch on points that relate to all students, and he is going to touch on every single freedom. ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ his whole life and all his work touch on ethics and the [First Amendment],” she said. “I am excited to see a speech that encompasses [it all].”
According to Director of Student Media Tom Nelson, this speaker is going to offer something different that has not been presented in the past. Boal has a unique background and incredible, firsthand political knowledge that he has gained from his careers.
“Mark Boal started as a journalist, so he’s dealt with controversial issues,” Nelson said. “In the past, we’ve had political consultants, singers, TV moguls, but what I really like about this speaker is that ... he’s worked as a journalist, and he’s covered some very serious topics. ... That is what makes this unique.”
“Zero Dark Thirty” has sparked controversy, but is also extremely topical to the message of First Amendment Week.
Nelson added, “Mark Boal can sit down and write this screenplay that is somewhat controversial and the government couldn’t stop him ... and some people didn’t like it, and they are free to protest it or boycott it. ... That ability for American citizens to have freedom of expression without government interference really is a great synopsis of what the First Amendment is all about.”
Boal’s keynote is one of multiple events making up this year’s First Amendment Week, slated for Feb. 4 through Feb. 7. On Feb. 5 during Convo, the Loyolan will host Food for Freedom, an event where students sign away their First Amendment rights for a free slice of pizza, but they soon face the realities of what life without those liberties would be like. Additionally, on Feb. 7, there will be a panel on the intersection of religion and politics in the United States, moderated by University President David W. Burcham.