Last Friday attendees of the Savannah Film Festival had the opportunity to view a screening of “Marathon: The Patriot’s Day Bombing.” The new documentary follows the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings that occurred April 15, 2013, including the immediate rescue and long-term healing process of the survivors and the chase, capture, and trial of the bombers.
Mother and daughter Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, survivors of the bombing, attended the showing with the rest of their immediate family, Kevin and Tyler, to view the completed documentary for the first time and take part in a discussion after the film with director and writer Ricki Stern. Stern and the Corcoran family sat down to discuss the process of making “Marathon” and the final result.
Stern explained that the documentary originated from a desire to follow up on the survivors, and remind the public that the consequences of the event were still unfolding for the survivors and their families, even though it had largely fallen from the country’s radar. “We were actually talking about terrorism in general, and Sheila [Sheila Nevins, a producer on the film] made the point of saying that the Boston bombing trial was happening in Boston, and that it wasn’t being reported on the front cover of The New York Times and was sort of buried in the paper,” Stern said, “and Sheila essentially said, ‘I wonder what happened to all of the survivors?’”
“Marathon” discussed the close bond that has developed between the survivors of the bombing, something the Corcorans eagerly reaffirmed.
“We are family,” Sydney said without hesitation, “We all have this common denominator that makes us so close, but the film has lead to new insight. You see a lot of the private thoughts that we never necessarily would have shared with each other.
“We call ourselves the Boylston Street family,” Celeste said.
Stern and her co-writer/director Anne Sundberg worked closely with the Boston Globe to gather information and footage for “Marathon,” because “Boston stuck with the survivors,” as Stern explained. She described the amount of news footage and photographs as an “avalanche,” but said they sorted through everything to best piece the story together.
“There were no reenactments in the film,” Stern said, “Everything is real and much of it is graphic. I don’t think protecting viewers is respecting them.”
Both Celeste and Sydney agreed that taking part in the film has propelled their healing process forward. “It’s cathartic,” Sydney said, “I think every time you talk about it, it does more to clear the fog; you learn something new about yourself and you keep growing stronger.”
The Corcoran family is far from defeated, and they have used their rediscovered strength to give back to others. Celeste and Sydney visited victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, to help inspire hope. “Someone can tell you it’s going to be all right,” Celeste said, “but it’s so different to have another survivor of tragedy standing in front of you, telling you they did it, and you can too.”
“Marathon: The Patriot’s Day Bombing” premieres on November 21 on HBO at 8 p.m.
Written by Shelby Loebker.