9/11 victims group supports Zero Dark Thirty; Martin Sheen backs down
Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
Filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow has been given a huge boost as the debate about the torture techniques featured in Zero Dark Thirty rages on - the relatives of those who perished in the 9/11 terror attacks on New York have weighed in.
The director and screenwriter Mark Boal have come under fire for showing scenes of waterboarding and prisoner humiliation during fictitious interrogations in the acclaimed new film and they have spent the weeks since its release defending the footage from politicians, family groups and celebrity pacifists.
And now they have support from an organisation representing the relatives of 9/11 victims.
Officials at 9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters and WTC Victims have released a statement denouncing what they call critics' "censorship" of the scenes in Zero Dark Thirty, which chronicles the fictitious manhunt for the man behind the 2001 terror attacks, Osama bin Laden.
Taking aim at Senators John McCain, Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin, who are planning to launch an investigation into suggestions the CIA leaked documents to Bigelow and Boal to help them perfect the torture scenes, the group writes, "As a group of 9/11 families sharing a rare moment of justice and elation in the viewing of a film chronicling the search for and ultimate death of Osama Bin Laden, we find it deeply disturbing that some of our elected officials want to discourage other 9/11 families and the public from seeing this outstanding film.
"Politicians who have criticized the movie and made misleading claims about it, stand in the way of engaging a public dialogue for a stirring film which invokes feelings of patriotism and perseverance and honors our military, our country, and the victims of 9/11.
"We are greatly concerned that a few pundits, film critics and elected officials are badmouthing this movie because of the water boarding scenes and because this film directly confronts the enduring terrorist threat.
"We feel this is history - like it or not - and no effort should be made to rewrite or censor it for political correctness. Certainly there should be no organized boycott or suppression of films based on political differences. The word for that is censorship..."
The statement continues: "We applaud Mark Boal and Katherine (sic) Bigelow for presenting a film that honors history, our military, our country, and the victims of 9/11 - through the excellent portrayal of how the US government and Navy Seals worked to apprehend OBL... All citizens should see this film and make their own decisions about its value. This is what democracy is about."
Meanwhile, Martin Sheen claims he gave his backing to a petition calling on Oscar voters to boycott Zero Dark Thirty by "mistake", insisting he has nothing against the gritty thriller or its director Bigelow.
The West Wing star's name appeared alongside fellow actors Ed Asner and David Clennon's in a protest against the picture's graphic scenes that urged Academy members to boycott the movie and not give it their vote in the categories for Best Picture and Best Actress for Jessica Chastain.
Sheen has now spoken out to clarify his stance on the film, claiming he never meant to hurt the film's Oscar chances because he wanted to make a stand against torture itself, not Zero Dark Thirty.
The liberal actor admits, "It's my own fault", explaining to the New York Times that there was a miscommunication about the petition between himself and his assistant.
Instead, Sheen was full of praise for Bigelow and Boal's thriller, revealing he "was very moved and troubled by it". He also applauded the filmmakers for highlighting the methods allegedly used by the C.I.A. to put pressure on terrorists, adding, "(It has) done great, great service to the issue."