Kathryn Bigelow Defends 'Zero Dark Thirty,' Denounces Torture

Kathryn Bigelow, director of the controversial "Zero Dark Thirty," has written a new essay in which she defends her depiction of torture in the movie but also denounces torture in her personal life. "Zero Dark Thirty" tells the story of how American officials tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden, using torture to do so.

"Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement," Bigelow wrote in an op-ed for The Los Angeles Times. "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."

Senators Dianne Feinstein and John McCain have requested to see the documents shown to Bigelow by the CIA, and lawyers are looking to see whether CIA officials provided false information about the techniques used to interrogate inmates.

Ramzi Kassem, professor at the City University of New York School of Law, described the controversy surrounding the issue of torture in a piece for the Huffington Post.

"'Zero Dark Thirty' aspires to be a dispassionate exposition of the facts as they unfolded. But because their presentation is informed by and told from the perspective of American operatives involved in the search for bin Laden … the film cannot be neutral," Kassem wrote.

"'Zero Dark Thirty' lionizes those who ordered and implemented torture. In this respect, the filmmakers are complicit in reinforcing the impunity shielding the culprits," the professor concluded.

Bigelow would refute that, though, and has written that 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."

"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. That doesn't mean it was the key to finding bin Laden. It means it is a part of the story we couldn't ignore. War, obviously, isn't pretty, and we were not interested in portraying this military action as free of moral consequences," Bigelow explained.

"Zero Dark Thirty" is in theaters now.