Three years after Boston bombing, film shows distress of attacker's friends

Fri Apr 8, 2016 7:07am EDT
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By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - For days after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Americans were glued to the news, eager to know who had planted the homemade devices that ripped through the crowd at the finish line, killing three people.

The world got its first look at the suspects three days after the April 15 attack, when the FBI released surveillance photos showing two men identified only by their baseball caps as "black hat" and "white hat."

The 12-minute film "Jahar" tells a fictional story of how three friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reacted when they realized he was the man in the white hat. It was written by two high-school classmates of Tsarnaev, who was convicted last year of carrying out the attacks and sentenced to death.

Debuting next week at New York's Tribeca Film Festival, the film shows three teenagers trying to understand how the friend they knew by the nickname "Jahar" could have been involved in an attack that wounded more than 260 people, more than a dozen of whom lost legs.

The film, written by Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Henry Hayes, cuts between the friends' memories of hanging out with Tsarnaev, smoking marijuana and laughing, and struggles to accept his role in the attack.

"That's our boy, and just because his picture's up doesn't mean he did shit," one of the friends declares as they argue about news reports linking Tsarnaev to the bombing. "You knew him. When did this man ever talk about politics or bombs or ... terrorism or Islam?"

At his sentencing in June, Tsarnaev admitted to carrying out the bombing with his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan, who died four days later following a gunfight with police. The younger Tsarnaev, now 22, left a note describing the attack as an act of revenge for U.S. military campaigns in countries that are mostly Muslim.

"Jahar" has a very different focus from that of the forthcoming "Patriots Day." That film, about then-Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and the hunt for the bombers, stars Mark Wahlberg and is due out in December.   Continued...

Runners continue to run towards the finish line of the Boston Marathon as an explosion erupts near the finish line of the race in this photo exclusively licensed to Reuters by photographer Dan Lampariello after he took the photo in Boston, Massachusetts in this April 15, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Dan Lampariello/Files