Kathryn Bigelow has admitted the torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty are not easy to watch, but stood by her decision to include them.
The Oscar-nominated film, starring Jessica Chastain as a CIA agent involved in the hunt for Osama bin Laden after the September 11 terrorist attacks, has sparked global debate for the controversial scenes of waterboarding and other torture techniques used on an Al Qaeda detainee.
Kathryn confessed: "As a human being I wanted to cover my eyes, but as a filmmaker, I felt a responsibility to document and bear witness. I think in a way it's a compliment to the film to stimulate such a vital conversation."
She added: "It's only disappointing when the film is mischaracterised."
Kathryn became the first woman to win an Oscar for best director in 2009 for her Iraq-based bomb disposal tale The Hurt Locker, but she insisted she doesn't set out to choose controversial subject matter.
"That's not, let's say, a reason to engage in a particular topic," she said. "What's interesting to me is the topicality of something. Certainly with The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, it's the fact these are stories that are almost contemporaneous with our lives.
"There's an urgency, a resonance and a topicality that, as a filmmaker, makes it very stimulating and exciting material to work with."
Kathryn also insisted she is not purposefully courting more awards.
"What I'm excited by is the fact the film is performing so well at the box office. There's such an outpouring of excitement for it, so that's really what's incredibly gratifying."
:: Zero Dark Thirty is in cinemas now.