Boston may be bracing itself for the first feature-length depictions of the 2013 Marathon bombings later this year, but Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be the subject of another film even sooner. Developed by two of Tsarnaev’s high school classmates, “Jahar,” a short film set in the aftermath of the attack, will premiere this April at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
The short is directed by Henry Hayes and written by Hayes and Zolan Kanno-Youngs. Both classmates of Tsarnaev’s at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, Hayes and Kanno-Youngs based the film on the revelation that Tsarnaev, their friend, had helped carry out the bombings.
“I think you’ll see a portrayal of what it was like, in the days after the bombing, to be a young adult and have to come to terms with the fact that you knew somebody that did something like this,” Kanno-Youngs said.
At the time of the bombing, Kanno-Youngs was a sports co-op at The Boston Globe, where he wrote a brief piece on his relationship with Tsarnaev. When Hayes, a New York University film student at the time, later approached him about co-writing a screenplay, Kanno-Youngs said, channeling those same emotions months later proved therapeutic.
“We were in a place just to tell a personal narrative that we had experienced, and that’s all we’re trying to do,” Kanno-Youngs said. “To tell a piece of this story that hadn’t really been told yet.”
Hayes and Kanno-Youngs, along with producer Lizzie Shapiro and cast members Devante Lawrence, Andrew Raia, Andre Ozim, and Alberto Rosende, made a point to shoot most of the film around Boston and Cambridge, given the strength of the memories here. Though the characters themselves are fictional, the story is very much the real one, Kanno-Youngs said.
“I’m proud of the work we did,” he said. “I’m excited to share it with people, I just hope that they’ll approach it ready to hear, or watch, another part of the story.”
“Jahar” premieres April 16 at the Tribeca Film Festival.