Kathryn Bigelow denounces torture, defends 'Zero Dark Thirty' torture scenes in essay

Posted By KATE STANTON, UPI.com  |  Jan. 16, 2013 at 11:47 AM
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Kathryn Bigelow's dramatization of Osama Bin Laden's assassination is perhaps this year's most controversial film. Among its critics are several senators -- including Dianne Feinstein and John McCain -- who have condemned the film for insinuating that torture led to the discovery of the al-Qaeda leader.

In an essay for the Los Angeles Times, Bigelow insisted that torture played a role in the early years of the hunt for Bin Laden, and that to deny its existence was "illogical."

Bigelow also affirmed her right as an artist to portray the CIA in any way that she saw fit.

Here's an excerpt:

First of all: I support every American's 1st Amendment right to create works of art and speak their conscience without government interference or harassment. As a lifelong pacifist, I support all protests against the use of torture, and, quite simply, inhumane treatment of any kind.

But I do wonder if some of the sentiments alternately expressed about the film might be more appropriately directed at those who instituted and ordered these U.S. policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen.

Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement. If it was, no artist would be able to paint inhumane practices, no author could write about them, and no filmmaker could delve into the thorny subjects of our time.

This is an important principle to stand up for, and it bears repeating. For confusing depiction with endorsement is the first step toward chilling any American artist's ability and right to shine a light on dark deeds, especially when those deeds are cloaked in layers of secrecy and government obfuscation.

"Zero Dark Thirty" is up for five Oscar nominations, including one for screenwriter Mark Boal, who conducted interviews with intelligence sources to write the film.

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