Partner: Fetzer Institute

From Hate to Hope: Unlikely Meeting Sparks Presentation, Documentary, and Inspirational Impact

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, the two will have yet another chance meeting, this time at the Museum of Tolerance.

These encounters form the basis of From Hate to Hope, a project at the Museum, where Tim and Matt share their story and the journey it sparked. Their presentation examines the roots of prejudice and discrimination and the human capacity for redemption and forgiveness.

The Fetzer Advisory Council on the Arts joined with the Museum of Tolerance in 2012 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.

See art produced by audience members after listening to Matt and Tim’s presentation.

The Fetzer Institute commissioned a short film piece on the story which grew into a short documentary -- "Facing Fear." The short documentary is now shortlisted for an academy award nomination. Directed by Jason Cohen, the film recounts Zaal's and Boger's stranger-than-fiction story and reveals more of their inspiring collaboration. It premiered at the 2013 Outfest in Los Angeles and won the Audience Award. Visit the official website for Facing Fear.

See the promotional trailer for the “Facing Fear” documentary:

Special thanks to our Fetzer partners: Program Officer Gillian K. Gonda and Fetzer Advisor Terry Snowball. Read more about the Fetzer Institute project.