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The Hurt Locker premiered at the Venice Film Festival in Italy during 2008. After being shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, it was picked up for distribution in the United States by Summit Entertainment. The film was released in the United States on June 26, 2009 but received a more widespread theatrical release on July 24, 2009.

Because the film was not released in the United States until 2009, it was eligible for the 82nd Academy Awards, where it was nominated for nine Academy Awards. It won six Oscars, including Best Director for Bigelow, the first woman to win this award, and Best Picture. Boal won for Best Original Screenplay. The Hurt Locker earned numerous awards and honors from critics' organizations, festivals and groups, including six BAFTA Awards. However it received criticism by some in the military for various inaccuracies.

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