Entertainment

Protesters object to 'Zero Dark Thirty' torture scenes

Friday, January 11, 2013

The controversy over the film "Zero Dark Thirty" is growing. The movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden includes scenes showing torture. Protesters want to make sure that's not rewarded by Oscar voters.

"Zero Dark Thirty" opens nationwide Friday. Human rights activists point out that it's also the 11th anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. They feel the film endorses torture, and some actors are urging Motion Picture Academy members not to give it any Oscar votes.

"Zero Dark Thirty" is a fast-moving graphic story about the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden. It's garnered critical acclaim from the film industry and has earned five Oscar nominations, including a best picture nod. But some are upset about the movie's acclaim due to its depiction of torture.

Several dozen protesters staged a rally in front of the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles Friday to focus on the alleged use of torture by U.S. agents against terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay and other locations.

"Zero Dark Thirty" includes scenes where water-boarding and sleep deprivation reveal important clues that lead to bin Laden's discovery.

"I believe that the film clearly promotes a tolerance for torture," said actor David Clennon. Clennon says because of that, he's hoping his fellow members of the Motion Picture Academy will choose not to cast any Oscar votes for "Zero Dark Thirty."

"You can't separate artistry and morality, and I hope that my fellow members of the Academy will consider the morality of each nominee," said Clennon.

The film's producers say the story is "based on firsthand accounts of actual events."

But last month, CIA Acting Director Michael Morell issued a statement to CIA personnel, calling the film a "dramatization," and saying it "creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques were the key to finding bin Laden. That impression is false."

Morell did say some information leading to bin Laden's capture came from those interrogation techniques.

The film's director, Kathryn Bigelow, is defending the torture scenes.

"It's not an easy subject, but it's also pretty irrefutable that that was part of this 10-year-long quest," said Bigelow.

Amy Pascal, co-chair of Sony Entertainment, issued a statement Friday that reads in part: "Zero Dark Thirty does not advocate torture. To not include that part of history would have been irresponsible and inaccurate. 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."

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