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Bigelow wrote that torture was part of the story and the backlash may be misdirected.
"Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement. If it was, no artist would be able to paint inhumane practices, no author could write about them, and no filmmaker could delve into the thorny subjects of our time.
"This is an important principle to stand up for, and it bears repeating. For confusing depiction with endorsement is the first step toward chilling any American artist's ability and right to shine a light on dark deeds, especially when those deeds are cloaked in layers of secrecy and government obfuscation.
"I do wonder if some of the sentiments alternately expressed about the film might be more appropriately directed at those who instituted and ordered these U.S. policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen," she wrote.
Last week, Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal responded forcefully to a "Zero Dark Thirty" anti-Oscar campaign waged by Ed Asner and other Hollywood actors, saying "to punish an artist's right of expression is abhorrent."
Bigelow and "Zero Dark Thirty" screenwriter Mark Boal had said previously that they "depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden.
"The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt, nor can any single scene taken in isolation fairly capture the totality of efforts the film dramatizes," they said.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.