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Kathryn Bigelow Opens Up About 'Zero Dark Thirty,' Torture and Truth on TIME Cover Story and Colbert Report

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood January 24, 2013 at 3:02PM

In addition to her appearance on the Colbert Report (watch below), "Zero Dark Thirty" director Kathryn Bigelow is the center of this week's TIME cover story, "Art of Darkness." The director, who rarely speaks with the press, is opening up to deal with and defend herself against the controversy surrounding "ZDT" and its torture debate.
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Bigelow Time cover

In addition to her appearance on the Colbert Report (watch below), "Zero Dark Thirty" director Kathryn Bigelow is the center of this week's TIME cover story, "Art of Darkness." The director, who rarely speaks with the press, is opening up to deal with and defend herself against the controversy surrounding "ZDT" and its torture debate. In the magazine's history, twelve directors have appeared on its cover--Bigelow is the second woman after Jodie Foster in 1991.

Included in the interview are comments from "ZDT" star Jessica Chastain, screenwriter Mark Boal, plus Jamie Lee Curtis and Willem Dafoe.

TIME's Jessica Winter states;

"Like a white-on-white canvas, Zero Dark Thirty has become a projection screen for the audience’s perceptions and sympathies, taking on different colors and contours depending on what the viewer brings to it. And though the debate over the U.S.’s use of torture has been pursued and inflamed in endless articles as well as books and television series (nonfiction and fiction alike), none have been as high-profile or as lavishly funded and marketed as Zero Dark Thirty, and none have borne the imprimatur of the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director, as Bigelow did for 'The Hurt Locker.'"

Highlights from the interview are below:

ZeroDarkThirtyChastain
Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty."
Bigelow, on the controversial "ZDT": “This territory has been controversial since the early part of the decade, so I knew that the film was going to be controversial, though perhaps I didn’t anticipate this kind of volume…. I feel we got it right. I’m proud of the movie, and I stand behind it completely. I think that it’s a deeply moral movie that questions the use of force. It questions what was done in the name of finding bin Laden.”

"If you pick challenging, contemporaneous subjects that create controversy and noise around them, it puts you with Apocalypse Now, All the President’s Men, A Clockwork Orange, In the Heat of the Night,Battle of Algiers. That’s some very good company….Once you’ve opened the window on topical material, it’s very hard to close it. Holding up a contemporary mirror is more attractive to me now than ever."

This article is related to: Kathryn Bigelow, News, Politics, Jessica Chastain, News, Media, Interviews


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.