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Talking about ‘Patriots Day’

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Among those at the “Patriots Day” press conference were Boston Marathon bombing survivors Patrick Downes with Jessica Kensky.David L. Ryan

The morning after the "Patriots Day" premiere, Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg fielded some tough questions from journalists at a press conference at the InterContinental Boston hotel.

Wahlberg and Berg — who answered each question thoughtfully and gracefully — were joined by a panel of speakers that included former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, current Police Commissioner William Evans, Watertown Police Sergeant Jeff Pugliese, carjacking victim Dun "Danny" Meng, "60 Minutes" producer Michael Radutzky, bombing survivors Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, and Richard DesLauriers , the former Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Boston Division. Lisa Hughes of WBZ-TV moderated the discussion about the film, which hits theaters Dec. 21.


Wahlberg said he felt a "huge sense of relief" after the Boston premiere, and he described the reaction from the audience as "emotional" and also "uplifting."

Davis praised the filmmakers for their attention to detail to getting the story right.

"I think they nailed it," Davis said. "They squeezed an enormous amount of detail into two hours."

Downes and Kensky were newlyweds when they were injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing; each of them of them lost their left leg below the knee. Kensky spoke candidly about their hesitation to be involved with the film at first, and how she was questioned whether it was the right decision or not, right up until the Boston premiere.

"We were both anxious for last night," she said.

Kensky commended the filmmakers and said she was honored to be seated beside Meng, who is played in the film by actor Jimmy O. Yang.

When Kensky was asked what she thought of the movie premiere, she couldn't hide her emotions.

"Hearing everyone today, the theme is 'Did they get it right?' And I think that's an impossible question for a survivor," she said. "I think that's what I realized last night, it's that this movie is never going to feel 'right' to them. . . . Because what happened to us was just anything but right."


Kensky said the film was respectful to the survivors, but it was still difficult to watch.

"It was so hard to see the bombers on the screen," she said.

Berg later explained the reasoning behind giving the Tsarnaev brothers so much screen time. He noted that before they launched their attack, one brother was a popular college student, and another was a boxer who dreamed of making the Olympics.

"These are individuals you might see at Starbucks," Berg said. "I think the fact they were so assimilated made them undeniably interesting and worth some screen time."

"At the same time, we were very conscious of not wanting to portray them in any way to be righteous men," Berg added.

When asked about the timing of the movie, Wahlberg said there were several competing films focusing on the Boston Marathon in the works. (Another marathon movie, "Stronger," starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is coming out next year.)

"I was resistant to a certain extent," said Wahlberg, "then I realized they were going to make the movies regardless." At that point, he wanted to become involved and make sure his hometown — and everyone affected by the bombings — was portrayed the right way on the big screen. "I'm so damn proud of how my city responded," he said.

When asked if he thought the film might incite anti-Muslim sentiment, Wahlberg replied that he did not think it would, because the bombers do not represent the Muslim community.


"All of the Muslim brothers I know are about love and peace and unity," Wahlberg said.

Berg said he was drawn to the project because of the way the city of Boston rallied together, and that he strived to make sure the story was told accurately.

"These kind of attacks are part of the new reality we live in," said Berg. "We wanted to do this film, we wanted to show that evil doesn't win."