EXCLUSIVE: Six years after terrorists detonated two bombs near the Boston Marathon finish line taking three lives and causing hundreds of injuries, Propagate Content/Electus will make the documentary series Maximum Harm, based on Boston-based investigative journalist Michele McPhee’s book. Aboard to direct are Charles Ferguson, who won an Oscar for the 2008 financial meltdown dissection The Inside Job and his partner Shimon Dotan, who won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize director for Hot House.
McPhee’s book recaptured an unimaginable outcome to Patriots Day, when the city of Boston screeches to a halt annually for celebrations capped by the Boston Marathon. In her book, McPhee leaned heavily into the allegation that lead terrorist Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an FBI informant gone rogue, and questioned whether he and brother Dzhokhar actually built the bombs they planted 210 yards apart near the finish of the Boston Marathon. Besides three deaths, the bombs caused several hundred injuries that included 16 who lost limbs.
The book painted a complex picture that questioned how Tamerlan Tsaernev was able to travel back and forth to Russia despite being on two government watch lists and having no apparent financial resources, and pointed it back to the bureau’s recruitment of him to be a “mosque crawler” to inform on radical separatists here and in their home in Chechnya. The book also reported as botched deals and broken promises by the FBI with regard to his immigration and the disenchantment, rage, and growing radicalization of the brothers and their family, including Tamerlan’s wife. McPhee is a five-time Emmy nominated journalist.
This allows for a different narrative than the HBO documentary Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing (which focused on the terror attack but especially on the resilience of the maimed survivors), Patriots Day (the Peter Berg-directed procedural in which the FBI, local law enforcement and politicians shut down the city for a dragnet that nabbed the terrorists) and Stronger, in which Jake Gyllenhaal starred as Jeff Bauman and his grueling recovery from wounds that cost him both of his lower legs. Like all of those films, Maximum Harm will highlight the heroism and Boston Strong spirit that prompted then U.S. president Barack Obama to say, “Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people.”
Electus will produce with Ben Silverman, Howard Owens, Chris Grant, Drew Buckley and Jonathan Schaerf serving as Executive Producers, alongside Michele McPhee (City on a Hill), Max Levenson, Bryan O’Connell and his newly formed Lady Moon Entertainment. Latter company is also producing a Judy Garland & Sid Luft documentary at Showtime and a Reagan documentary at A&E.
UTA Independent Film Group will handle worldwide sales for the project. Ferguson and Dotan are represented by UTA.
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