Kathryn Bigelow reiterates previous defenses of "Zero Dark Thirty" in L.A. Times essay
Kathryn Bigelow is doubling down on her defense of the torture scenes in "Zero Dark Thirty," writing in the the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that "depiction is not endorsement."
"Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement," she wrote in 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.
"This is an important principle to stand up for, and it bears repeating," she wrote.
Bigelow's contention that the film does not come out on the side of controversial interrogation techniques mirrors remarks she made at the New York Film Critics Circle awards.
Except this time her explanation took 647 words as opposed to 31 words just over a week ago.
Bigelow said essentially the same thing at the NYFCC award ceremony Jan. 7. That was, until now, her most spirited defense of a film its critics say overstates the role that waterboarding and torture played in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
"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."
In the Times piece, the director — who did not receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Director — goes on to say that it seems "illogical" to make a case against torture by denying its role in counter-terrorism.
"On a practical and political level, it does seem illogical to me to make a case against torture by ignoring or denying the role it played in U.S. counter-terrorism policy and practices," she said.
Her piece does not address the core of what Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker writer Steve Coll said in an essay this week that took the Oscar-nominated film to task.
Coll said it was unfair for Bigelow and her screenwriter Mark Boal, a former journalist, to claim artistic license after long-touting the movie as a "reported" film and billing it as a journalistic piece of fiction.
"Boal and [director Kathryn] Bigelow have offered two main responses to the criticism they have received. One is that as dramatists compressing a complex history into a cinematic narrative, they must be granted a degree of artistic license," Coll wrote in the New York Review of Books. "That is unarguable, of course, and yet the filmmakers cannot, on the one hand, claim authenticity as journalists while, on the other, citing art as an excuse for shoddy reporting about a subject as important as whether torture had a vital part in the search for bin Laden, and therefore might be, for some, defensible as public policy."
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