The second film of the 2009 season is entirely in French (with English subtitles), with a slow and meditative pace — and is altogether extraordinary. Beyond Hatred, by Olivier Meyrou, begins two years after the murder of François Chenu. Three skinheads had been roaming a park in Rheims, France, looking to “do an Arab,” when they settled for François, a 29-year-old gay man, instead. François fought back fiercely, but he was beaten unconscious and thrown into a river, where he drowned.
Mostly, Beyond Hatred is the story of François’s parents and siblings, and their struggle to understand what they cannot excuse and to rise above hatred and the desire for revenge. The Chenu family fight not only to save themselves from bitterness, but also to uphold the principles of tolerance for which François lived and died. As we watch François’s parents struggle to mourn their son, to comprehend the logic of the killers and to truly rise “beyond hatred,” our admiration for them grows. The film — gradual, subtle and moving — allows us to feel the family’s experience and travel alongside them in their search for justice and understanding.
Find out more about the film and watch filmmaker Olivier Meyrou talk about the Chenu family and his cinematic choices in POV’s extended filmmaker interview: