AU-DELÀ DE LA HAINE (Olivier Meyrou) Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Au-Delà De La Haine means Beyond Hatred. Olivier Meyrou's award-winning 2005 documentary, screening as part of Cinematheque's Images Of The World: Classic And Contemporary Documentaries program, examines racism and homophobia in France through the story of François Chenu, who was beaten and drowned by three skinheads.
Like many of their ilk, the killers found family and strength in the white power movement. On the night they murdered Chenu, they were actually out looking to do an Arab. What they found instead was a fearless, openly gay man.
Meyrou reconstructs the murder and its aftermath in heartbreakingly candid interviews with Chenu's family and their oddly over-dramatic lawyer as well as the criminals' more sedate defence team. The images are stark, verging on drab, but the love and understanding Chenu's parents show their son's murderers compensate for the dull visuals.
Chenu was killed in 2002, the same year far-right nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen made a serious bid for the presidency. He is mentioned only in passing, but widening the scope of the film to look at France's ethnic tensions would have been interesting. Nevertheless, Meyrou has constructed a bleak but beautiful portrait of grief and, more importantly, forgiveness. (Wednesday, November 29, Cinematheque)