BERKELEY (KPIX 5) – Bay Area director and producer Jason Cohen is in an elite group; his documentary “Facing Fear” is nominated for an Academy Award.

“It’s not why we made the film, but we do know that, as a result, the recognition is going to get this film out to a wide audience,” Cohen said.

“Facing Fear” is the story of two men who had a chance encounter in the late 1980’s.

Matt Boger was 13-years-old when his family kicked him out of their South Bay home because he was gay. He was living on the streets of Los Angeles when Tim Zaal and his gang of neo-nazi friends attacked Matt, beat him and left him for dead.

“I kicked him in the forehead and he was out,” Zaal said, recalling the attack.

“In those last moments of looking up and watching these fourteen guys with razor blades glued to the front of their boots, high-fiving each other, and they were congratulating each other” Matt said, recalling the horror of the near-fatal beating.

But he survived, and 25 years later had a second chance encounter with Tim Zaal and has been able to forgive him and others in the gang.

Cohen believes the film will give people a chance to see how facing one’s fear can lead to forgiveness.

“I think it kind of forces you to look at the bigger picture when you look at something like this” he said.

The film was shot in Los Angeles but it was produced and edited at the Saul Zaentz Media Center in Berkeley, responsible for Academy Award-Winning films such as ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ ‘Amadeus’ and ‘The English Patient.’

Cohen is honored to be in such respected company but he says “it was never in the scope of making this film.”

You can learn more about “Facing Fear” at

All five nominated documentaries are screening February 8th and 9th at the Camera Cinemas in San Jose and the Opera Plaza Cinemas in San Francisco.



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