Saying that “Zero Dark Thirty” is not for the faint of heart is actually a severe understatement. The film, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, has caused a great deal of controversy since its release on Friday.
“Zero Dark Thirty” includes graphic scenes depicting the torture of suspected terrorists in the quest to obtain information about Osama Bin Laden. The scenes include torture techniques such as waterboarding, physical violence, and humiliation.
Director Kathryn Bigelow, screenwriter Mark Boal and others involved with the film (including Sony Pictures Entertainment) have been accused of advocating a pro-torture stance.
The controversy surrounding the film didn’t hurt it at the box office this weekend- “Zero Dark Thirty” took the number 1 spot, raking in $24 million.
Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences such as David Clennon have spoken against the film, who stated that he will not vote for “Zero Dark Thirty” at the Academy Awards.
Clennon participated in a demonstration on Friday at the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles to protest against conditions at the Guantanamo Bay detainment facility. The demonstration was organized by Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace and other human rights organizations.
Clennon stated the following to media outlets covering the demonstration:
“I firmly believe that the film Zero Dark Thirty promotes the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America’s so-called War on Terror. In that belief, following my conscience, I will not vote for Zero Dark Thirty in any category… I cannot vote for a film that makes heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.”
Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal released the following statement on Friday in response to allegations that the film advocates torture:
“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 movie. 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. This 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.”
Another thing that adds to the controversy surrounding “Zero Dark Thirty” is a pending Senate hearing to determine if the CIA allowed improper access to classified materials to Boal and others associated with the film.
Does the controversy surrounding “Zero Dark Thirty” keep you away from the box office, or running toward it? Do you think the filmmakers went too far with their depictions of torture? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!