After receiving five Oscar nominations this week, “Zero Dark Thirty” is on its way to topping the box office in its first weekend of wide release, but the film is still plagued by controversy over its depictions of torture.
The Kathryn Bigelow film chronicles the CIA’s efforts to hunt down Osama bin Laden and includes vivid depictions of “enhanced interrogation techniques” during the early stages of that process.
The controversy has already sparked a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into how screenwriter Mark Boal obtained his supposedly fact-based information. Both Bigelow and Boal spoke in defense of their film at the New York Film Critics Circle awards earlier this week.
But that did little to quiet the conversation. On Wednesday, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences member David Clennon (an actor best known for TV’s “thirtysomething”) published an op-ed piece about his decision not to vote for the film in any categories.
On Thursday, Bigelow was not among the 2013 Oscar nominees for Best Director, a surprise widely viewed as a snub. (The film was still nominated in key Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay categories.)
Now Amy Pascal, co-chairman of the film’s distributor Sony Pictures, released a statement addressing the controversy:
“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
“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.
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.”