CHICAGO (CBS) — If you were the victim of a vicious beating prompted by bigotry, could you forgive the assailant? That is the subject of an Oscar-nominated film that will be screened in Chicago on Monday night.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams talked to one of the men at the heart of the riveting documentary “Facing Fear.”READ MORE: Bridgeport Art Center To Host Exhibit Celebrating 50th Anniversary Of the National Women's Caucus For Art
Matthew Boger was barely into his teens when he suffered a devastating blow from his mother.
“My mom threw me out when I was 13 years old, when I told her that I was gay,” Boger said. “She dragged me across the floor. That was the end of it; didn’t want to have anything else to do with me.”
Boger lived on the streets of Los Angeles.
In the Oscar-nominated film “Facing Fear,” Boger described what happened just a few months later: a horrifying night in West Hollywood.
A dozen neo-Nazi skinheads, with razors on their boots, beat and kicked Boger.
“High-fiving each other, and they were congratulating each other. They believed, with everything that was within them, that they had accomplished the goal of killing that kid in the alley, who had never spoken to them, had never said anything to them,” Boger said in the film.
Years after the vicious attack, working at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, Boger has had multiple conversations with a former white supremacist who has renounced his bigotry.READ MORE: Man Dead, Woman In Critical Condition After Car Crashes Into Tree In Sauganash
“Seven months into that relationship, we’re having a conversation, and I realize that he’s the guy in the alley. We both realize who we are,” Boger said.
Tim Zaal was indeed one of the attackers.
“I went through most of my life thinking that I had killed this person, or least not knowing,” Zaal said in the film.
“Facing Fear” recalls Boger’s anger, and the reconciliation with Zaal. The film was being shown Monday night at the Chicago Cultural Center, sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a museum focusing on racism in America.
“We’re hoping that Matthew’s story will open up people’s minds to understand that he’s just like everybody else,” said Alison Pure-Slovin, Midwest region director for the Wiesenthal Center.
Boger and Zaal have continued to work together, speaking to audiences about their experiences, and urging tolerance and respect.
“It is a real friendship. It’s a real honest friendship,” Boger said.MORE NEWS: Cook County Reopening Mass Vaccination Site In Matteson Thursday; Forest Park Clinic Now Open
“Facing Fear” was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary short. A screening was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Chicago Cultural Center. Boger will give a talk and answer questions from the audience.