Members of the Senate intelligence and armed services committees have been raising hell about the depiction of enhanced interrogation in Zero Dark Thirty. Senators Dianne Feinstein, John McCain and Carl Levin have sent letters the CIA implying that the agency must’ve leaked false information to ZDT screenwriter Mark Boal because they insist those techniques yielded none of the intelligence that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow ignored the hand-wringing in Washington until last night, when they fired back at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards ceremony in New York City. Bigelow laid into the debate when she accepted the awards for best picture and best director:
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; no author could ever write about them; and no filmmaker could ever delve into the knotty subjects of our time.
Boal was even more animated in his defense of his movie, acccording to a story in the Hollywood Reporter:
There’s been a lot written about this movie; some of it has popped off the entertainment page to the news page. And from time to time, some of you might have wondered if we would have liked to comment on some of that coverage, and the answer is yes. Let me just say this: there was a very interesting story on the front page of the New York Timestoday by Scott Shane, about a CIA agent who is now facing jail time for talking to a reporter about waterboarding.
This gentleman is going to jail for that. And all I can say is that I read that story very closely. It sort of reminds me of what somebody else said when they were running for president, which is, ‘If this shit was happening to somebody else, it would be very interesting. For us, it’s quite serious. But nevertheless, I stand here tonight being extremely proud of the film we made… 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.
Actress Jessica Chastain joined in defending their work on David Letterman’s show:
Like our review says, Zero Dark Thirty is a great movie that uses real-life history as a starting point to explore the themes that interest the artists who made it. Whether it’s the artistic license or actual truth-telling that makes Washington folks so uncomfortable is something we’ll likely discover in the national debate that’s sure to follow once the movie finally gets a wide release this weekend.