the oscars

Sony Head Responds to Zero Dark Thirty Torture Criticism

Screenwriter Mark Boal and Filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow attend the 2012 New York Film Critics Circle Awards at Crimson on January 7, 2013 in New York City.
Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow. Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Zero Dark Thirty received five Oscar nominations, but it won’t be getting any votes from Academy member David Clennon, who on Friday denounced the movie for “[promoting] the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America’s so-called war on terror” and making “heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.” Speaking at an anti-torture rally in LA, the 69-year-old thirtysomething star called for fellow Oscar voters to boycott the controversial Kathryn Bigelow project (which has also drawn the ire of the CIA and members of Congress.) This did not sit well with Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal, who later in the day released a statement blasting Clennon’s “wrongful and misdirected rhetoric.”

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. [And] 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.

Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal have mostly kept quiet on the matter, as some in Congress are said to be interested in subpoenaing their CIA sources. However, at an American Film Institute awards luncheon yesterday, Boal told Deadline that he doesn’t plan to “sit back and stay silent” about the accusations made against his movie forever. After all, there are Oscars at stake here.

Sony Head Responds to Zero Dark Thirty Criticism