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Kathryn Bigelow addresses torture concerns in LA Times piece

Zero Dark Thirty

Story by Jack Foley

KATHRYN Bigelow, director of controversial Osama bin Laden movie Zero Dark Thirty, has written a piece in the LA Times addressing various concerns about the depiction of torture in her film.

The filmmaker, who has taken a lot of flak for the film’s graphic depiction of the CIA employing torture as a means to gaining information in the hunt for bin Laden, said that ignoring the issue would have been a dis-service to history.

She wrote: “As for what I personally believe, which has been the subject of inquiries, accusations and speculation, I think Osama bin Laden was found due to ingenious detective work. Torture was, however, as we all know, employed in the early years of the hunt.”

The letter goes on to address many of the issues raised by US senators, insisting that her film, though a fictional account, is a fair depiction of the events leading to the killing of bin Laden.

But she also feels hurt by some of the accusations made against her.

She wrote: “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 US policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen.”

She continued: “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.”

Bigelow went on to pay tribute to the efforts of those involved in the successful bringing to justice of bin Laden and said it was important not to forget “the thousands of innocent lives lost on 9/11 and subsequent terrorist attacks”.

She also hoped that the debate surrounding the issue would continue.

Read the full letter here

Zero Dark Thirty opens in UK cinemas on January 25, 2013.

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