Don Hardy, Dana Nachman
Ben Tullipan, Esther Hyman, Liz Alderman, Steve Alderman
LOVE HATE LOVE celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. It weaves together the stories of three families who have suffered losses as a result of the most notorious terrorist attacks of the last decade. We follow their journeys over six countries on four continents as they work their way back to love. From the beaches of Bali to the deserts of Uganda to the fast paced streets of Manhattan's financial district, the different visual landscapes stand in contrast to the commonalities of our shared humanity. In the end, this diverse group of characters from different backgrounds and cultures arrives at the same conclusion: When love triumphs over hate, terrorists will never win.
We enter the story in an African village where an American woman named Liz Alderman is attending an unidentified event, culminating with her leaving a photo of a young man in an empty room. Fighting back tears, she says, "When I left his picture in that room, I felt like he was leaving again."
We are then transported to New York City, on September 11th, 2001. Before this day, Liz and Steve Alderman's life was that of a typical American family. But when their 25-year-old son Peter was killed in the World Trade Center attacks, their lives were cast into chaos and despair. Trying to cope throughout those first weeks and months, Liz received the top mental health care U.S. doctors and psychologists had to offer. Even with this care, she was barely hanging on; her therapy was a ray of light in an otherwise dark time. Then late one night, as she was watching TV unable to sleep, she saw a statistic that one billion people, a sixth of the world population, have been directly affected by terrorism, torture, war or genocide. This opened her eyes for the first time since Peter?s death ? to look beyond her own pain and realize many other people face similar loss, despair and depression.
When it came time to accept an offer of one and a half million dollars from the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, Liz and her husband Steve profoundly disagreed on what to do. Liz called it blood money for her son's death. Steve thought they'd be stupid not to take it; after all, nothing could bring Peter back. They finally reached a compromise. Liz and Steve took the money and started the Peter C. Alderman Foundation. The Foundation's ambitious goal is to create sustainable and culturally effective mental health care throughout the world, so victims of war and terrorism can return to productive lives and give other survivors the chance that Liz had. The film follows the Aldermans on an emotional trip to Uganda as they are about to open their sixth mental health clinic. While there, we see doctors and patients at one of their existing clinics, who show the true power that comes from rebuilding lives after tragedy. After losing their own son in such a horrifying act of hate, the Aldermans are now dedicating their lives to restoring hope to others through their selfless acts of love.
For our second story, the film turns to Esther Hyman, whose life was dramatically altered by terrorists on July 7, 2005. She lost her only sibling and best friend, Miriam, when a suicide bomber boarded the bus Miriam was taking to work in London. Esther says hatred and global divisions caused the atmosphere that led to Miriam's murder. Now she is dedicating her life to promoting unity and inclusion in her sister?s name.
Esther?s sister Miriam was a gifted artist whose talents almost went unrealized because of vision problems. It was not until she was a teen that Miriam discovered she was shortsighted. Once her problem was diagnosed and treated, she saw the intricacies of leaves on the trees for the first time. Without corrected vision, Miriam would never have blossomed into the gifted artist she became. Now, Esther and the rest of Miriam's family are devoted to giving the gift of good vision to thousands of children in India, taking what Miriam experienced one step further. Through their foundation, they are providing the funds to equip a Children?s Eye Care Center in India, with the goal of eradicating preventable blindness in that country. The film follows Esther on a moving trip to the new Miriam Hyman Children's Eye Care Center in Bhubaneswar, India. Two of Miriam's great loves were nature and art, and she never would have been able to appreciate these fully without the gift of sight. This is Miriam's legacy and Esther's life's work.
Our third story introduces audiences to an amazing survivor. On October 12th, 2002, 26-year-old Australian Ben Tullipan was in Bali on a business trip when he stepped into the Sari Club to buy a bottle of water. At the same time, a suicide bomber parked a van containing a one-ton car bomb outside the club. Ben was walking out when the car bomb detonated.
Ben was about 10 feet from the van when he saw and felt the explosion. He immediately knew things were terribly wrong. He could see the horrific injuries to his legs; he could feel the shrapnel throughout his body and he knew he was severely burned. He believes he actually died for a few moments, floating above his body, looking down on the scene. People were shouting at him. It wasn?t his time to leave this world. Ben was taken on the back of a Ute to Sanglah Hospital where he was placed in a corner with a sheet over his face. The nurses thought he was dead.
Ben survived but sustained life-changing injuries including the loss of both legs and hearing in one ear. Doctors told him he would never walk again. But this was not the end for Ben. It was just the beginning. Despite his prognosis, he now walks with two prosthetic legs and uses that feat as a symbol to fuel the rest of his life. He has dedicated his second chance at life to helping others. Ben tirelessly volunteers, helping other recent amputees get back the life they had before. We?ll even see Ben return to Bali, where he still buys goods for his business to support the economy as it tries to rebuild.
Many films have been made about the victims of September 11 and their families. LOVE HATE LOVE is unique in its attempt to weave together this American tragedy with the experience of terrorism in other countries, and in the way it frames these attacks within the context of transcending hate to bring forth a more loving world community. As Liz Alderman says at the close of the film, ?If you can return hope to somebody?s life, they are less liable to strap dynamite around their waist and go blow themselves up along with innocent bystanders.? In other words, the best way to conquer this devastating cycle of Hate?may just be with Love.