JP Norden, Celeste Corcoran, and her daughter Sydney -- all survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 -- joined directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg at the Doc NYC screening to share their thoughts on the experience of making Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing.
Stern responded to a question about choosing which families to highlight in the documentary: “We researched a lot of families through the Boston Globe – it was important for us to pick three families that represented the bigger picture, and it wasn’t just the visible scars but the invisible wounds … We wanted to try as best as possible to represent all the stories, because there are so may survivor stories and we couldn’t tell all of them.”
Norden, who was joined on the panel by his mother Liz, shared what inspired him to agree to be a part of the film: “The bombers were always going to be remembered, but the survivors get forgotten in a way. … I was a little skeptical … but tonight seeing this film for the first time I’m proud to be a part of it.”
The film was put together from personal interviews, as well as video and surveillance footage and photography. Stern commented on mining the content: “Because we started this film when the trial began, a lot of material that had been previously classified was then released to the public because it was used as evidence. We were basically getting all of the material as it was coming out … But then obviously the Boston Globe had tremendous archive, their video and photography staff had spent a tremendous amount of time covering this.”
Annie Sundberg explained: “The Marathon footage that was uncut, we saw online. It was filmed by a Boston Globe reporter, and it was the impact of watching it uncut versus this sanitizing that the news does that really struck us.”
Celeste Corcoran, who lost both legs in the attacks, spoke about signing on to do the film and seeing it put together: “We had done a lot of press, and there were a lot of press outlets that, frankly, I thought we had been burned by, so to be asked to do something like this was very scary… I remember asking, ‘If there’s something we don’t like, can we say we want to keep it out?’’ and they said, ‘Nope.’ I am extremely proud of the finished product. … Hearing somebody say something is so different than seeing it on film. It’s so important that people see what terrorism is and that it needs to be stopped.”
Corcoran's daughter, Sydney, who was 18 at the time of the bombing, also suffered severe wounds from the explosions. She commented on the difference between making the documentary versus doing other interviews: “Eventually it became really cathartic; this film wasn’t like any other interview we had done … they’re looking for you to say, 'Everything’s better now and it’s all good,' and that’s not really how it goes. With Annie and Ricki it was real, it was raw, whenever the cameras were on it felt like they were getting everything. It was very honest; they were just getting the whole process. … It really showed what happened.”
Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing is available on HBO GO and HBO NOW.