Hubertus Hoffmann’s Love Is Tolerance – Tolerance Is Love (based on his book of that title) starts out promisingly enough, with split-screen scenes illustrating a rousing hip-hop song. But then a narrator challenges viewers to “make tolerance great again.” It’s a feeble shout-out to America’s current leader, and a hint at the generalities and repetition to come. A portion of the song replays over and over. Luminaries like the Dalai Lama and Malala Yousafzai, along with ordinary folk, mostly offer up platitudes, and some leaders make questionable claims.
The most eloquent on the doc’s broader points is former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, who says he remained cognizant of his enemies’ humanity even in war and argues for constant vigilance: “The default of human society is to drift gradually toward xenophobia, toward hatred of foreigners, toward discrimination of minorities…because it helps the majority to define itself as something of value.”
Hoffmann’s one concrete goal is fighting false claims about Islam and testifying to its importance to civilization. “It is not permitted in any way to kill or terrorize anyone,” says Imam Omar Habtoor Al Darei, director of IFTA General Authority for Islamic Affairs in the United Arab Emirates. “The Prophet said, ‘No one is to frighten his brother — even frightening is contrary to Islam.’ ”
The diptychs and triptychs that set the stage are overused and distracting, and quickly make viewing this film intolerable. Love and tolerance are difficult to argue with, yet this effort seems pointless — not just because it will change few minds, but also because it’s a mess.
Love Is Tolerance – Tolerance Is Love
Directed by Hubertus Hoffmann
Opens August 10, Cinema Village
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 8, 2018