By Seth Daniel
In what is believed to be an upcoming blockbuster Hollywood hit, the movie ‘Stronger’ about Marathon Bombing victim Jeff Bauman’s recovery from catastrophic injury will premiere on Sept. 12 in Charlestown’s Spaulding Rehab – the very place where the hometown hero learned to walk again after the tragedy.
Spaulding officials and Lionsgate Entertainment made the announcement on Monday that the film would get its first showing in an intimate, invitation-only event at Spaulding on Sept. 12.
The movie, which is based upon a book of the same name, will have its overall U.S. premiere on Sept. 22.
In 2015 the filmmakers of ‘Stronger’ approached Spaulding with a commitment to honor the courage of everyone involved in the moving events following the tragedy and to share Bauman’s story in an honest and respectful way. Allowing the filming to take place in the same places where Bauman’s long road to recovery took place presented a unique opportunity to share his story as well as to further Spaulding’s mission of empowerment for the patients and families served by the network.
Many of the caregivers and patients Bauman has known through his care and peer mentorship at Spaulding were directly involved in the scenes filmed at the hospital, said Spaulding officials.
“Jeff’s story of courage and determination has inspired and educated the public about the obstacles and challenges that people with disabilities face each day,” said Spaulding President David Storto, a Charlestown resident. “Spaulding is proud to host the US premiere of ‘Stronger’ in the same location Jeff received his rehabilitation care as a way of giving the event the deepest meaning and significance. Many of the clinicians, people and fellow patients Jeff encountered during his time at Spaulding participated in the filming. We feel this is an extraordinary opportunity to honor this special time of healing in our city’s history and to raise awareness of the critical role of rehabilitation medicine to help people of all abilities find the strength.”
‘Stronger’ is the inspiring true story of Jeff Bauman, an ordinary man who captured the hearts of his city and the world to become a symbol of hope following the infamous 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Jeff, a 27-year-old, working-class Boston man who was at the marathon to try to win back his ex-girlfriend Erin (Tatiana Maslany). Waiting for her at the finish line when the blast occurs, he loses both his legs in the attack. After regaining consciousness in the hospital, Bauman is able to help law enforcement identify one of the bombers, but his own battle has just begun. He tackles months of physical and emotional rehabilitation with the unwavering support of Erin and his family. It is Jeff’s deeply personal account of the heroic journey that tests a family’s bond, defines a community’s pride and inspires his inner courage to overcome devastating adversity.
The film also stars Academy Award nominee Miranda Richardson and is directed by David Gordon Green.
“Spaulding has been such a large part of my life for the past four years that having the US Premiere of ‘Stronger’ there feels so right to me,” said Bauman. “Although watching the film on that big screen will be such an emotional rollercoaster, it comforts me to know that I will be surrounded by the people who have been such a big part of my recovery – the doctors, nurses, friends and family. I gotta say it will be a wild trip watching the film in the exact same spot where I learned to walk again.”
The filmmakers decided the most fitting place for this Boston audience to experience the film would be at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. The US premiere will be held in the same Spaulding gym where Jeff Bauman and other Boston Marathon bombing survivors worked on their recovery. This space also plays itself in the film, and the premiere will be utilized to bring deserved attention to the work done at Spaulding and to inspire additional support of its mission.
The audience will be composed mainly of friends and family of the Baumans, the filmmakers, the stars of the film, and representatives of the public servants who helped so many the day of the bombings and the medical personnel who saved lives and supported the recovery of the survivors.
Spaulding, which opened in Charlestown 12 days before the bombing, treated 32 of the most catastrophically injured survivors who suffered from burns, shrapnel damage and limb loss. Sixteen of the survivors treated had amputations, including Jeff Bauman who was one of three individuals who lost both limbs due to the bombing. The last marathon survivor to complete their inpatient stay was discharged in late August 2013 and many survivors, including Jeff, continued on with Spaulding receiving outpatient therapy for several years.