HOLLYWOOD -- "Stranger at the Gate" is one of this year's nominees for Best Documentary Short Film. It is the dramatic story of a former U.S. Marine planning a terrorist attack on a mosque. However, his plan is derailed by kindness.
Richard "Mac" McKinney spent about 25 years as a U.S. Marine. Mac admits he had a deep hate for Muslims and he planned to bomb The Islamic Center in his Muncie, Indiana, community. He decided to visit the mosque to gather intelligence about these people he so hated. Then, eight weeks later, everything changed.
Activist Malala Yousafzai, once targeted for assassination herself by the Taliban, loved this story of a community of people who welcomed an outsider, despite finding him somewhat scary in the beginning.
"This is a story about the power of forgiveness, redemption, kindness, compassion. I believe in those values," said Yousafzai. "What really stands out to me in this movie is Mac's willing to accept that love, accept that compassion. He took his time, but he did not close the door to the love that he saw there."
Joshua Seftel directed the film and said now is the time to share this story.
"What I've learned from this film is how badly this message is needed," said Seftel. "When we showed this film to the mosque, the people that we filmed - we showed it to them first - and when they saw the film and it was over, one man stood up and he said, 'We need to make sure every American sees this film!'"
If you would like to see "Stranger at the Gate," you will find it on YouTube or newyorker.com.