The Oscar-winning Hurt Locker filmmaker describes the political drama chronicling the manhunt for the world's most wanted as "an imagistic version of living history". It is based on first-hand accounts of actual events.
"I want them to lean into their own conclusions. The intended perspective is on the ground, in the centre of that hunt," she explained.
"What better place to be? It's where I wanted to be. I wanted to put the audience right in the middle of it and keep it as subjective and immediate and visceral and primal as I possibly could."
Hailed by some as the best film of the year, Zero Dark Thirty has already become a talking point, from its controversial subject and scenes to Oscar buzz for actress Jessica Chastain - who plays CIA officer Maya.
Kathryn - the first female filmmaker to win both Oscars for best picture and best director for The Hurt Locker - admitted she is drawn to dramatising the lives of those toiling for the US on the front lines of war and terrorism.
"The opportunity to humanise an environment that works in the shadows and humanise a work force that has a very important job that is sort of opaque to the general public is exciting," she said.