Sony Pictures executive: 'Zero Dark Thirty' 'does not advocate torture'

LOS ANGELES Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:07pm EST

LOS ANGELES Jan 11 (Reuters) - Sony Pictures executive Amy Pascal lashed out on Friday at a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) who accused Osama bin Laden film "Zero Dark Thirty" of promoting torture and said he would not vote for it in the Oscars race.

In a strongly worded statement, Pascal said the "attempt to censure one of the great films of our time should be opposed."

"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," said Pascal, who is co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and chairman of its Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group.

"This film should be judged free of partisanship," she said, adding that the film "does not advocate torture."

Pascal's comments followed an opinion piece by Academy member, actor David Clennon, who said the film "condones torture," and the surprise omission of director Kathyrn Bigelow from the Oscar best director shortlist this week.

"At the risk of being expelled for disclosing my intentions, I will not be voting for 'Zero Dark Thirty' - in any Academy Awards category," Clennon wrote on progressive news website Truth-out.org in a Jan. 9 posting.

"'Zero' never acknowledges that torture is immoral and criminal. It does portray torture as getting results," added Clennon, who appeared in 1980s TV series "thirtysomething."

The 6,000 members of the Academy are urged not to reveal who they cast their votes for. Academy Award winners are revealed at a ceremony in February, the highlight of Hollywood's award season.

The Academy on Friday declined to comment on Clennon's remarks.

The thriller was Oscar-nominated for best picture, despite coming under attack in Washington over its source material and claims by politicians that it depicts torture as helping the United States find and kill the al Qaeda leader in May 2011.

It also got nominations for actress Jessica Chastain and screenwriter Mark Boal.

Sony Pictures Entertainment is a unit of Sony Corp. (Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Eric Walsh)

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