Oscar Nominee Has West Michigan Ties

Posted at 7:04 PM, Jan 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-16 23:55:15-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The 2014 Oscar nominees were announced Thursday, and one of them has ties to West Michigan.  

The Fetzer Institute was founded by John Fetzer, a longtime resident of Kalamazoo and former owner of the Detroit Tigers.

Its mission is to spread awareness of the impact that love and forgiveness can have in the world. That mission to seek out those stories is now leading them to Hollywood and this year’s Oscars.

Gillian Gonda says the halls at the office are all buzzing, and people from all over the world are congratulating them. The 23-minute film ‘Facing Fear’ was nominated for Best Documentary Short. It’s a true story about a neo-Nazi who beat up a gay man decades ago.

The two later met by chance and have since been sharing their story of forgiveness and redemption.

“It explores the depth and complexity of them coming together and learning from one another,” said Gonda.

Rob Lehman, the chair of the board at the institute says it is one of many projects they have been working on over the years, a series of advisory committees that were searching around the world for love and forgiveness stories when they found this one.

 That’s when the team in West Michigan connected filmmaker Jason Cohen with the story who brought it to life.

“This just really confirms to us how inspiring these stories of forgiveness can be and how much they can impact one’s life,” said Gonda.

For more information on how you can see the film: