Beyond Hatred / 2008 First Run Features / 85 Minutes / http://www.firstrunfeatures.com /
Individuals may have seen Beyond Hared when it was first released on the arthouse / documentary circuit last year, but Olivier Meyrou (Celebration, Poisoned Ink, The Meal)’s documentary has just made it to DVD. The action in Beyond Hatred starts out after a 2002 incident in which three French skinheads, trolling for an “Arab” to beat up, found Francois Chenu. Chenu was not Arab is in any definition of the term, but ey was gay. Deciding that Chenu was an adequate target, the group started taunting Chenu with gay slurs. The slurs rapidly turned into a pummeling, and into murder, as the skinheads ultimately threw the unconscious Chenu into a pond, causing eir to drown. After these events occur, Meyrou creates a very human type of narrative, not exaggerating or exploiting what had happened back in 2002.
The most interesting thing that occurs during the film is the evolution of the parents’ feelings towards the event. Of course, there was an initial period where nothing but hate could be felt for the attackers, but the parents eventually began to understand how the attackers came to see the world, and really attempt to go and show individuals (and those around them) the folly of their behavior. The strongest suit put forward by Beyond Hatred is that homophobia is not a right behavior, and those individuals that have homo or transphobia have specific psychological issues and life events that created the senses of wrong and right behavior that ultimately caused them to conduct and commit such depraved acts. By getting deep into the roots of homophobia through the use of the case study, Olivier Meyrou attempts to give states and families a proper course of action to make sure that their children and relations act in a proper way.
The cinema verite style used by Meyrou has been used in shows like Cops for the last few decades, and I believe that American audiences will be able to more readily take the messages put forth by Meyrou through this method of filming. This documentary is not only for individuals that are heavily into the GLBT movement, but for anyone that wishes to understand the struggles that individuals have to face in their normal, everyday life. The action may have taken place in France, but the message that Meyrou puts forth in Beyond Hatred is one that individuals across the world can take up. Buy this if you are an instructor or leader of a group that highlights societal problems.