The Cure for Hate: Bearing Witness to Auschwitz
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 24m
Director(s): Peter D. Hutchison
Writer(s): Peter D. Hutchison, Tony McAleer
Where To Watch: premiering at the Pittsburg Jewish Film Festival on April 25, 2023; for more information, visit www.thecureforhatefilm.com
RAVING REVIEW: There’s a rare instance in film watching when the narrative overtakes anything else. That’s not a slight against anything this film has to offer; it was a beautifully shot, well-directed film that will hopefully go on to spread the message that the director and focus of the film are attempting to show. I only mean that the story the film is telling holds a substantial level of importance, not only about our past but our future.
Join Tony McAleer on an expedition for understanding in THE CURE FOR HATE: BEARING WITNESS TO AUSCHWITZ as he further evolves from his former days as a skinhead and Holocaust denier into a beacon of redemption and personal growth. Director Peter D. Hutchison conveys Tony's heartfelt pilgrimage to Auschwitz/Birkenau through his understanding and continuing knowledge of the world and the battles many faced, invoking the Jewish principle of T'shuvah – a return to God and humanity through repentance.
The film takes us from the modern-day journey that McAleer is going through while also transporting us back to 1930s Europe; this compelling documentary exposes the rise of fascism and unravels the factors that birthed violent extremist groups. It serves as a timely warning, emphasizing the dire need to confront and challenge hate in our modern world. Recent events reveal that the ominous shadow of hatred continues haunting our society, reminding us of the work ahead. I think these warnings are justified in many ways, and the film lightly touches on the parallels of the dangers we’re seeing today in contrast to the same rise so many years ago.
THE CURE FOR HATE: BEARING WITNESS TO AUSCHWITZ shows a portion of Tony McAleer's metamorphosis from a neo-Nazi to a pivotal founding member of the anti-hate activist organization Life After Hate. His inspiring story has resonated with many audiences, from synagogues and schools to community gatherings, law enforcement, and even the US Congress. It proves that redemption is possible; while he can’t undo what he’s done in the past, he is actively trying to better the future.
You may ask how I can feel sympathy for this man when I am a stern believer in the fight against hatred and fascism. I also found myself surprised because of my compassion for someone who was lost but found their way out of that pit of hate. McAleer mentions that he isn’t looking for forgiveness. Still, I find myself, even though I am only an ally to these marginalized (past and present) communities, willing to find a sense of understanding in his mission.
Set against the backdrop of Auschwitz and Birkenau, the film underscores the grim consequences of unchecked hate, which can culminate in unspeakable acts of brutality and violence. Tony's journey exemplifies the potential for personal growth and healing, providing viewers with invaluable lessons on transcending hatred and fostering empathy.
Peter Hutchison, the visionary behind the lens, is a multi-talented artist—a renowned filmmaker, NY Times Bestselling author, educator, and activist. His extensive portfolio boasts acclaimed films such as "Requiem for the American Dream: Noam Chomsky and the Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power," "Healing From Hate: Battle for the Soul of a Nation," and "Devil Put the Coal in the Ground." Hutchison's work consistently explores themes of male identity, evident in films like "You Throw Like A Girl: The Blind Spot of Masculinity," "Angry White Men: Masculinity in the Age of Trump," and "The Man Card: White Male Identity Politics from Nixon to Trump."
Tony McAleer, the protagonist of THE CURE FOR HATE: BEARING WITNESS TO AUSCHWITZ, spent a decade and a half immersed in the world of white supremacists and neo-Nazis before co-founding Life After Hate. This life-altering experience propelled him to become a certified Life Coach. McAleer has testified before Congress, attended the Christchurch Call to Action Summit with the New Zealand Prime Minister, penned "The Cure for Hate: A Former White Supremacist's Journey from Violent Extremism to Radical Compassion," and delivered a TED Talk on "Radical Compassion."
THE CURE FOR HATE: BEARING WITNESS TO AUSCHWITZ offers something that I still, 700 words into my review, struggle to put into words. I think the combination of Tony’s redemption and the film's historical context are combined to show us a warning, showing what the future may hold if we don’t actively fight against the acts of those who wish to silence others. The film's thought-provoking content and heartening message serve as a light in these hardened times, inspiring viewers to reflect on their capacity for change and the far-reaching implications for society.
P.S. Do what you can to actively seek out this film when it becomes available to a broader audience. www.thecureforhatefilm.com
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[photo courtesy of EAT THE MOON FILMS]