Kathryn Bigelow has commented on the controversy surrounding "Zero Dark Thirty" throughout the last month, but the director has issued her most definitive statement yet on the film in a new first-person essay for The Los Angeles Times.
"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," Bigelow wrote. "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 U.S. policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen."
When "Zero Dark Thirty" premiered in Washington DC earlier in January, the film was met with protesters -- some of whom were dressed like prisoners -- calling out Bigelow's film as Pentagon-produced propaganda. As THR noted, one sign read "Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading," a reference to the film's sequences of torture. In "Zero Dark Thirty," a prisoner is waterboarded for information about future terror attacks; later, the same prisoner gives up the code name of Osama bin Laden's courier, a key piece of information that comes into play years later during the bin Laden manhunt.
Critics of Bigelow's film -- Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), as well as Alex Gibney, an Oscar-winning filmmaker, among them -- have said that connecting torture to successful intelligence means "Zero Dark Thirty" endorses the use of enhanced interrogation. Bigelow disagrees.
"Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement," she wrote for The Times. "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."
If that quote sounds familiar, it's because Bigelow made a similar statement at the New York Film Critics Circle awards dinner in early January.
"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 organization's award for Best Director. "No author could ever write about them, and no filmmaker could ever delve into the knotty subjects of our time."
Bigelow was a surprising snub in the Best Director category when the Academy Awards nominations were announced on Jan. 10, but the director is standing by her film and its content.
"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, who labored greatly and intently, who gave all of themselves in both victory and defeat, in life and in death, for the defense of this nation," she wrote.
For the full essay from Bigelow, head over to the Los Angeles Times website. Starring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, James Gandolfini and more, "Zero Dark Thirty" is out in theaters now.
SURPRISE: "Beasts of the Southern Wild" for Best Picture
In a million years, when kids go to school, they're going to know: Behn Zeitlin's "Beasts of the Southern Wild" was a Best Picture nominee.
SNUBBED: 'Moonrise Kingdom' For Best Picture
"What kind of bird are you?" Not the kind that gets Best Picture nominations. Sorry, Wes Anderson.
SNUBBED: 'The Master' For Best Picture
How long awards season lasts: there was a point when "The Master" was considered an Oscar front-runner.
SNUBBED: 'Skyfall' For Best Picture
The AMPAS did what countless Bond villains could not: bring down 007. Not even a Producers Guild nomination could push this $1 billion grosser to Best Picture.
SNUBBED: 'The Dark Knight Rises' For Best Picture
SNUBBED: 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' For Best Picture
Signs of youth from the Academy? Despite an all-star cast of a certain age and literary pedigree, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" failed to earn a nomination for Best Picture.
SNUBBED: 'The Impossible' For Best Picture
In a less competitive year -- or if it had been directed by Stephen Daldry -- "The Impossible" might have broken through to the Best Picture race. Alas.
SURPRISE: 'Amour' For Best Picture
Signs of age from the AMPAS: "Amour" grabbed a Best Picture nomination.
SNUBBED: 'Flight' For Best Picture
Paramount only shot at a Best Picture nomination could have used a pilot as good as Denzel Washington's Whip Whitaker.
SNUBBED: 'Marvel's The Avengers' For Best Picture
If there was only a Best Schawarma category.
SURPRISE: Joaquin Phoenix For Best Actor
"I think it's total, utter bulls--t, and I don't want to be a part of it," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/18/joaquin-phoenix-oscars-bullshit-the-master_n_1979740.html">"The Master" star said about the Academy Awards last year</a>. "I don't believe in it. It's a carrot, but it's the worst-tasting carrot I've ever tasted in my whole life. I don't want this carrot." Too bad, Joaquin!
SNUBBED: John Hawkes For Best Actor
Hawkes was a favorite for Best Actor since "The Session" premiere at the Sundance Film Festival <em>last</em> January. Unfortunately, he couldn't go wire-to-wire. The veteran missed the cut in favor of some higher profile stars.
SNUBBED: Anthony Hopkins For Best Actor
Call him Joaquin Phoenix, Sr.: "People go out of their way to flatter the nominating body and I think it's kind of disgusting," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/19/anthony-hopkins-hitchcock-oscars_n_2156179.html">Hopkins told HuffPost about the Academy Awards</a>. "That's always been against my nature."
SNUBBED: Bill Murray For Best Actor
Or, "snubbed." For Murray, "Hyde Park on Hudson" may become a movie that will live in infamy. (Groan, but: oof, it was not good.)
SNUBBED: Jack Black For Best Actor
In a less competitive year, Black may have grabbed the "Bradley Cooper" position for his against-type role in "Bernie." Unfortunately, it wasn't a less competitive year.
SNUBBED: Jamie Foxx For Best Actor
Like the "d" in "Django Unchained," the Oscar support for Foxx was silent.
SNUBBED: Jean-Louis Trintignant For Best Actor
No amour for the "Amour" star.
SURPRISE: Quvenzhane Wallis For Best Actress
Once there was a Hushpuppy, and she was the youngest Best Actress nominee ever. 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis immediately becomes Oscar night's most interesting nominee for the sheer fact that the telecast will end well past her bedtime.
SURPRISE: Naomi Watts For Best Actress
Watts was on the cusp of a Best Actress nomination throughout awards season; in the end, her much-loved performance (Robert Downey Jr. said it was his favorite at the People's Choice Awards on Wednesday) made the final roster.
SNUBBED: Marion Cotillard For Best Actress
Did category fraud hurt Cotillard's chances? The actress has what many felt was a supporting role in "Rust and Bone," which may have made her work in the film seem less worthy than her competitors.
SURPRISE: Emanuelle Riva For Best Actress
Amour for the "Amour" star! (Joke recycling works.)
SNUBBED: Helen Mirren For Best Actress
Mirren is a perennial Oscar favorite, which may be why anyone thought her work in "Hitchcock" -- a minor film to say the least -- would get singled out by the Academy. Still, an Academy Awards ceremony without Dame Helen is a disappointing proposition.
SNUBBED: Keira Knightley For Best Actress
Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina" never caught fire with Oscar watchers, meaning Knightley's tortured work as the original anti-heroine was left out in the cold like some Russian vagrant.
SNUBBED: Rachel Weisz For Best Actress
Guess that SAG award nomination wasn't an outlier after all.
SNUBBED: Matthew McConaughey For Best Supporting Actor
Oscar told Matthew McConaughey he cannot touch. It's not all right, all right, all right.
SNUBBED: Javier Bardem For Best Supporting Actor
How fast things change during awards season: Bardem went from an Oscar darkhorse, to legitimate contender, to snubbed, all within the matter of one month.
SNUBBED: Leonardo DiCaprio For Best Supporting Actor
Too much of a good thing? DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson all chewed scenery with aplomb in "Django Unchained," forcing Oscar voters to pick their respective poison. (They chose Waltz.)
SURPRISE: Christoph Waltz For Best Supporting Actor
That's a bingo!
SNUBBED: Samuel L. Jackson For Best Supporting Actor
See: Leonardo DiCaprio.
SNUBBED: Eddie Redmayne For Best Supporting Actor
For the "Les Miserables" star, Oscar night will amount to empty chairs at empty tables.
SNUBBED: John Goodman For Best Supporting Actor
Surprising fact of the day: John Goodman has never received an Oscar nomination. This year, Academy voters ignored his work in both "Argo" and "Flight."
SURPRISE: Jacki Weaver For Best Supporting Actress
Signs of "Silver Linings Playbook" dominance? Weaver, who gives a strong performance in the dramedy, was nominated over presumed faves like Nicole Kidman.
SNUBBED: Nicole Kidman For Best Supporting Actress
When surprise turns snub: Before the SAG award nominations, Nicole Kidman was a longshot for a Best Supporting Actress nod; after earning notices from the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes, however, she became enough of a legitimate option that her exclusion from the Oscar nominations counts as a shocker.
SNUBBED: Ann Dowd For Best Supporting Actress
<a href="http://www.awardsdaily.com/blog/2012/12/19/supporting-actress-contender-ann-dowd-pays-out-of-pocket-for-screeners/">Not even self-financed "For Your Consideration" ads</a> could help Ann Dowd secure an Oscar nomination for the polarizing "Compliance." Can she get a refund?
SNUBBED: Samantha Barks For Best Supporting Actress
It's Barks' "Les Miserables" co-star Anne Hathaway who's on her own in this category: Hathaway was the only "Les Mis" actress to grab a nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
SNUBBED: Maggie Smith For Best Supporting Actress
This isn't the Emmys.
SNUBBED: Tom Hooper For Best Director
How the mighty have fallen? Despite a nomination from the DGA, Hooper failed to earn a nod from the Academy, an organization that awarded him with Best Director just two years ago. Hooper's snub pretty much knocks "Les Miserables" out of serious Best Picture conversation.
SNUBBED: Quentin Tarantino For Best Director
Was "Django Unchained" unveiled too late in the game? Tarantino's film failed to receive strong guild support from the DGA, SAG and WGA (where it wasn't even eligible for an award), which may have led to this snub.
SURPRISE: David O. Russell For Best Director
Don't call it a comeback. Despite a snub from the DGA on Tuesday, Russell cruised through awards season as a presumed Best Director nominee. On Thursday, that became a reality. "Silver Linings Playbook" immediately becomes a favorite for Best Picture alongside "Lincoln."
SNUBBED: Ben Affleck For Best Director
WHAT? Many thought Ben Affleck could <em>win</em> Best Director, but he was turned away on Oscar nomination morning -- despite a DGA nomination earlier in the week. What went wrong? Forget it, Jake; it's Oscar season.
SNUBBED: Kathryn Bigelow For Best Director
They won't have Kathryn Bigelow to kick around anymore. Despite winning numerous precursor awards, Bigelow was left off the Best Director list. Did Michael Haneke ("Amour") steal her nomination?
SURPRISE: Michael Haneke For Best Director
Haneke's "Amour" was a big player on Oscar nomination morning, also earning nods for Best Picture, Best Actress (Emmanuelle Riva), Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film.
SURPRISE: Benh Zeitlin For Best Director
Where did THIS come from? Zeitlin's "Beasts of the Southern Wild" was a beloved film throughout 2012, but few had him on the radar for Best Director. That he made the cut ahead of past winners Tom Hooper and Kathryn Bigelow and fan-favorite Ben Affleck counted as one of Thursday morning's biggest surprises.