Thrilled Pigelow Accepts Leni Award

March 17, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Sunday, February 24, Hollywood: Thousands of people from all over the world jammed the sidewalks as the stars arrived for the Oscar ceremony. Amid eight-foot fences, concrete barricades and cops on the sidewalks, from streets and roofs, people strained for a glimpse of stars driving down the boulevard. Next to the Walk of Fame, with the sidewalk as a stage, another red carpet was unrolled. The window of Frederick's of Hollywood, a celebration of the objectification and degradation of women, provided the backdrop. The presentation of the Leni was about to begin.

Named for the pro-Nazi filmmaker of Triumph of the Will, Leni Riefenstahl, the Leni was awarded by the Committee to Sanitize Crimes Against Humanity in Film.

Passersby stopped to listen and take pictures as two prisoners in black hoods and orange jumpsuits did a fashion walk and then knelt by the podium next to large posters of the Leni—a gold statuette wearing a hood and dangling electrodes. Uncle Ray got on the mic and gave one of his barroom movie reviews of the CIA torture film Zero Dark Thirty, directed by Kathryn Pigelow, the only nominee for the Leni. A Filipino man stopped by and shouted out crimes of the U.S. around the world.

Then, someone who identified himself as John Yoo, the brilliant lawyer who came up with a legal justification for the torture, including waterboarding, of prisoners, presented the coveted award. Pigelow was busy down the street, but her close friend, Elmira, Matriarch of the Dark Side, accepted for her. As onlookers posed for pictures in front of the sidewalk stage, Elmira read a letter purported to be from Pigelow, which said in part, "Let me get a little soft here. Leni Riefenstahl loved her country and she felt a sacred obligation to set the record straight at a time when much of the world was unfairly stereotyping and condemning Hitler and the Nazis—out of context and without considering the complexity of the Nazi mission. Suddenly everyone forgot those precious words of wisdom handed down from the ages—in fact, I think it was Attila the Hun who first spoke them—you can't have an omelet without breaking some eggs. Leni took that to heart and set out to help create an omelet for the world."

Pigelow's letter continues: "I always get a little teary here... I share a mission with Leni—a love of country and a sense of patriotic duty. And more, a desire to set the record straight, to correct the knee-jerk conclusions that pass for history these days. I am an artist and I am dedicated to the truth in my art. This is the heart of my film Zero Dark Thirty, and let me say here this is why I have portrayed torture so lovingly in my film. It happened, it was needed, more is needed in the world today and it made CIA agent Maya a hell of a heroine. As I've said so many times, mere presentation doesn't equal endorsement. But seriously, folks, let's always keep in mind the omelet is made by breaking eggs—we have to break eggs and while people may not want to see the eggs broken, they sure do want to eat the omelet. And I consider it a mission from god to bring the love and respect the 'egg-breakers' of the world need and deserve.

"As I said in the beginning of this letter, the Committee to Sanitize Crimes Against Humanity in Film has not only brought honor back to the legacy of Leni Riefenstahl, it has instilled a whole new sense of purpose, of mission, back into my life and my work. I have been consumed by the muse of truly great cinema—the ideas are jumping out of my head and a few have been greenlighted so look for them in the very near future—My Dinner with Adolph, The Glory of the Gas Chamber, Holocaust Daze, and The Untold Beauty of the Inquisition, to name a few. So thank you all once again and let's go out there and break as many eggs as we can—we've got a world to feed."

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