Kathryn Bigelow: Torture Depiction In 'Zero Dark Thirty' Not An Endorsement

01/08/2013 09:25 am ET | Updated Jan 08, 2013

At the New York Film Critics Circle awards ceremony on Monday night, "Zero Dark Thirty" filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal defended their film against accusations that it's pro-torture.

"I thankfully want to say that I'm standing in a room of people who understand that depiction is not endorsement, and if it was, no artist could ever portray inhumane practices," Bigelow said while accepting the award for Best Director. "No author could ever write about them, and no filmmaker could ever delve into the knotty subjects of our time."

An Oscar favorite and one of 2012's best-reviewed films, "Zero Dark Thirty" is not without its critics. Filmmakers like director Alex Gibney and lawmakers (including Senators John McCain and Diane Feinstein) have slammed the movie for its perceived endorsement of enhanced interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. As presented in "Zero Dark Thirty," a key piece of evidence was given up by a prisoner who was waterboarded (though, as Boal and Bigelow often remind, not while he was being waterboarded).

"We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of [Osama] bin Laden," wrote Sens. Feinstein, McCain and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in a letter to "Zero Dark Thirty" studio Sony in December.

"[T]he truth is that multiple streams of intelligence led CIA analysts to conclude that bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad," countered CIA director Michael Morell in a statement. "Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, but there were many other sources as well.”

For his part, Boal was undeterred by any of the criticism. "I stand here tonight being extremely proud of the film we made," the screenwriter said on Monday night while accepting Best Picture with Bigelow and producer Megan Ellison. "In case anyone is asking, we stand by the film. I think at the end of the day, we made a film that allows us to look back at the past in a way that gives us a more clear-sighted appraisal of the future."

Joked Boal, "Apparently, the French government will be investigating 'Les Mis.'"

For more on the New York Film Critics Circle awards, head over to THR.

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