Kathryn Bigelow Writes Open Letter To Defend Zero Dark Thirty

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January 16, 2013 | 11:21am EST

Director Kathryn Bigelow has written an open letter in defense of her acclaimed movie Zero Dark Thirty as controversy over the film’s torture scenes threatens to overshadow her awards season run.
The gritty drama, about the real life hunt for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, is among the top competitors during the Hollywood awards season and is nominated for five Academy Awards, including the coveted Best Picture Oscar.
However, the picture includes scenes which suggest agencies used torture to extract information during the search for bin Laden, sparking criticism from politicians and officers of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and prompting a protest outside the film’s premiere in Washington, D.C. earlier this month.
Actors Martin Sheen and Ed Asner even spoke out to urge Oscar voters to boycott the film over the controversy, but Bigelow has now chosen to address the drama publicly by writing an article for the Los Angeles Times.
The moviemaker, who became the first female to win the Best Director Oscar in 2009, insists she shouldn’t be banned from addressing sensitive topics such as torture because Hollywood needs to continue its tradition of depicting war on the big screen.
She writes, “Now that Zero Dark Thirty has appeared in cinemas nationwide, many people have asked me if I was surprised by the brouhaha that surrounded the film…
“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…
“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…
“Indeed, I’m very proud to be part of a Hollywood community that has made searing war films part of its cinematic tradition. Clearly, none of those films would have been possible if directors from other eras had shied away from depicting the harsh realities of combat…
“Bin Laden wasn’t defeated by superheroes zooming down from the sky; he was defeated by ordinary Americans who fought bravely even as they sometimes crossed moral lines… for the defense of this nation.”
The Academy Awards will be handed out in Los Angeles on 24 February.