Monday, April 02, 2007

BEYOND HATRED/AU-DELA DE LA HAINE - deeply moving French doc

In 2002, a young Frenchman called Francois Chenu was attacked by three skin-heads. They had gone out to "do an Arab", but this young "fag" did just as well. They pummelled his face and, infuriated by his unabashed declaration of his homosexuality, they beat him to within an inch of his life. Had they left him on the pavement he would have survived. But fearful of being caught, they dumped him in the river where he drowned.

The murder leaves his close-knit family - mother, father, three siblings - broken-hearted but determined to move beyond hatred. They want justice but not vengeance. And as their life of strong family values and liberal tolerance is brought up against alcoholism, child neglect and neo-Nazism, they demand not just justice but for French society to look carefully at the intolerance and violence that lurks beneath the surface.

There story is told with respectful and moving sympathy in an outstanding documentary by Olivier Meyrou. Filmed in a deceptively simple manner on 16 mil, the camera follows the family as they relive the day of the murder, prepare for the trial and react to the verdict. We also see the defence and prosecution lawyers ruminate on the task at hand. There are no fireworks or revelations. Just a dignified call to arms against liberal complacency.

BEYOND HATRED was shown on TV in France in 2005 and is currently showing at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. It won the Best Doc award at Berlin 2006.

No comments:

Post a Comment