'Zero Dark Thirty' filmmakers release statement on torture scenes in light of protests
Sony Pictures, the studio behind the Oscar-nominated movie "Zero Dark Thirty" issued a statement on January 11 about the film's torture scenes after protests against the film occurred in Los Angeles and Washington D.C.
The film tells the story of the American efforts to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden. Jessica Chastain stars as a Maya, a young CIA officer who becomes obsessed with finding the former Al Qaeda leader. It was directed by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow. "Zero Dark Thirty" includes scenes that depict torture methods like waterboarding that were allegedly used during the interrogation of terror suspects.
The film has been criticized for how it depicts the interrogation and torture scenes. New York Times Op-Ed columnist Frank Bruni said about the film, "...by the movie's account, it [torture] produces information vital to the pursuit of the world's most wanted man. No waterboarding, no Bin Laden: that's what 'Zero Dark Thirty' appears to suggest."
David Edelstein, a film critic for New York Magazine wrote in a review of the film, "It also borders on the politically and morally reprehensible. By showing these excellent results--and by silencing the cries of the innocents held at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and other 'black sites'--it makes a case for the efficacy of torture."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, anti-torture protesters dressed as prisoners in orange jump suits and black hoods, as appeared at the premiere of the film in Washington D.C. on January 8. Protesters also appeared in Downtown Los Angeles outside the Federal Building on January 11 and some spoke out against the film.
Amy Pascal, the Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, released a statement on January 11 about the film's controversy and she said the film "does not advocate torture." Below is Pascal's full statement:
"'Zero Dark Thirty' does not advocate torture. To not include that part of history would have been irresponsible and inaccurate. We fully support Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal and stand behind this extraordinary movie. We are outraged that any responsible member of the Academy would use their voting status in AMPAS as a platform to advance their own political agenda. This film should be judged free of partisanship. To punish an Artist's right of expression is abhorrent. This community, more than any other, should know how reprehensible that is. While we fully respect everyone's right to express their opinion, this activity is really an affront to the Academy and artistic creative freedom. This attempt to censure one of the great films of our time should be opposed. As Kathryn Bigelow so appropriately said earlier this week, 'depiction is not endorsement, and if it was, no artist could ever portray inhumane practices; no author could ever write about them; and no filmmaker could ever delve into the knotty subjects of our time.' We believe members of the Academy will judge the film on its true merits and will tune out the wrongful and misdirected rhetoric."
The film is nominated for five Academy Awards, including a nods in the Best Actress in a Leading Role category for Chastain and one for Best Picture. However, Bigelow was snubbed in the directing category. Check out the full list of nominees here.
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