Film director Kathryn Bigelow has defended scenes in her new movie Zero Black Thirty which depict the CIA torturing terrorist suspects during the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

Zero Dark Thirty tells the story of the CIA's ten-year hunt for Bin Laden and his killing in 2010. The movie, which includes scenes of brutal "enhanced interrogation" of detainees in CIA blackspots, has been described as both "a wrenchingly sad, soul-shaking story about revenge and its moral costs" by The New York Times and "false advertising for waterboarding" by The New Yorker which also opined that the film "endorses torture".

Speaking to the Guardian, Bigelow, who became the first female director to win a Best Picture Oscar for her visceral Iraq War movie The Hurt Locker, paid tritute to script writer Mark Boal who conducted interviews with CIA operatives. "I feel very confident with his reporting," she said, "very confident with my handling of his reporting. And I think we can both, with confidence, stand by that film from beginning to end."

She added that her aim was "to be faithful to the research, to not have an agenda, to hope that people go to see the movie and judge for themselves. But I think that you certainly see the human cost. And also, if it had not been part of that history, it would not have been in the movie. You can't have it one way and not the other way."

Zero Dark Thirty focuses on a group of CIA agents, played by Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Ehle and Jason Clarke tasked with finding Bin Laden.

"It's a very human piece and it's a story of determination," Bigelow said. "We can all, as human beings, identify with believing in something – believing in something so strongly that there is nothing else in your life.

"It's a real tribute to the men and women in the intelligence community who obviously have to, by the nature of their job, work in complete secrecy. It's a nod of respect and great gratitude."

Watch official trailer.

Zero Dark Thirty opens in Ireland on January 25.