From Hate to Hope: Unlikely Meeting Sparks Oscar-Nominated Documentary

  • Facing Fear - Trailer

    Facing Fear - Trailer A moment of hate. A lifetime of forgiveness. Facing Fear - An Academy Award nominated documentary short film by Jason Cohen.

  • Turning from Hate to Hope The unique reconciliation of Matthew Boger and Tim Zaal is a story of forgiveness that has grown into educational sessions and a documentary film. Image Credit: Jason Cohen

  • Turning from Hate to Hope The unique reconciliation of Tim Zaal and Matthew Boger is a story of forgiveness that has grown into educational sessions and a documentary film. Image Credit: Jason Cohen

  • Turning from Hate to Hope The unique reconciliation of Tim Zaal and Matthew Boger is a story of forgiveness that has grown into educational sessions and a documentary film. Image Credit: Jason Cohen

  • Turning from Hate to Hope The unique reconciliation of Matthew Boger and Tim Zaal is a story of forgiveness that has grown into educational sessions and a documentary film.

  • Turning from Hate to Hope The unique reconciliation of Matthew Boger and Tim Zaal is a story of forgiveness that has grown into educational sessions and a documentary film. Image Credit: Jason Cohen

From Hate to Hope: Unlikely Meeting Sparks Oscar-Nominated Documentary

Jason Cohen's "Facing Fear" has been nominated for a 2014 Academy Award in the Documentary - Short Subject category. 

A list of upcoming screenings of "Facing Fear" is available here.

When he was 13,  Matthew Boger’s mother kicked him out of the house because he was gay. Elsewhere in California, a young Tim Zaal's world is shaken when his brother is shot. The worlds of the two teens collide when Matthew, who is living on the streets of Hollywood, is savagely beaten by a group of skinheads, one of whom is Tim Zaal.

Twenty-five years later, Boger found himself in a chance meeting with a former neo-Nazi skinhead, Tim Zaal. The two men soon realized that they had met before -- Zaal was one of the attackers who beat Boger and left him for dead.

With their worlds turned upside down, the two embarked on a journey of forgiveness and reconciliation that challenged both to grapple with their own beliefs and fears. Neither could imagine that it would to lead to an improbable collaboration and friendship.

"Facing Fear," a 22-minute documentary made with support from the Fetzer Institute, retraces the haunting accounts of the attack and the revelation that brought these men together again. Delving into their backgrounds, the roots of the ideologies that shape how they handle the reconciliation process are exposed. Self-doubt, anger and fear are just a few of the emotions they struggle through as they come to terms with their situation.

Shot on location in Los Angeles, the film is the theatrical directorial debut for Jason Cohen. Edited by the award-winning Tom Christopher with cinematography by Svetlana Cvetko (Academy Award-winning "Inside Job"), the film takes an introspective trip through the world of early 80's Hollywood while delicately addressing past events that shaped the men involved, from early childhood to their present relationship.

The Fetzer Advisory Council on the Arts has joined with the Museum of Tolerance to evaluate this project to learn more about how such powerful stories can inform our understanding of forgiveness in ways that can be life changing. Early findings suggest the program provides promising opportunities for family dialogue on the issues of tolerance and forgiveness and that incarcerated populations are interested in and may benefit from the chance to learn more about forgiveness, especially self-forgiveness.

"Facing Fear" premiered at the 2013 Outfest in Los Angeles, where it won an Audience Award for Outstanding Documentary Short Subject.

This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on the Arts.