National Geographic premiered its new Boston marathon bombing documentary at the Wilbur Theater Wednesday night. “Inside the Hunt for the Boston Bombers” uses interviews, re-enactments, emergency radio transmissions and archive footage to tell the story of the attack and its aftermath.
The story is told in chronological order but weaves together points of view from victims, first responders, law enforcement, medical staff and elected officials. Many of those featured in the film were on hand at the premiere.
Among those in attendance were Michele Mahoney and Jim Blackburn, a couple who had been on just four dates before Marathon Monday. Mahoney’s leg was badly injured in the blast.
“When I woke up after surgery I immediately thought of him and said to my family ‘Someone needs to get in touch with this guy I’m dating,’” she said Wednesday night.
Mahoney said she had avoided the spotlight before she was approached by National Geographic about the documentary.
“I made a conscious decision in the hospital to stay out of the media. We weren’t looking for this. They kind of found us,” she said. “We decided to do one big thing to have it done well.”
Both Mahoney and Blackburn said they learned a lot about the manhunt from the film. In the days after the bombing, the couple was too busy recovering to pay attention to the news.
“We didn’t have any idea what happened in Watertown until we watched the movie,” said Blackburn.
The film also delves into the behind-the-scenes thinking of law enforcement, including disagreements over releasing the photos of the suspected bombers.
In the film, former Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis called it a “terrible choice we had to make.”
“There’s no doubt this team went active again after the photos because they felt pushed to do that. It was impossible to foresee they would target a university officer, but I think it was a target of opportunity,” he said. “I regret that Sean Collier was killed. I wish there was something else that could have been done. But I’m happy that at least those pictures were out there.”
Former Boston FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DeLauriers said the film showed the emotional toll the search took on agents who continually watched raw footage of the bombing searching for clues.
“It’s a horrible video. You see people die in that video. You see people bleeding. You see first responders trying to save lives,” said DesLauriers Wednesday night.
The two-hour documentary will air Sunday night at 9 pm. on the National Geographic channel.
Scalese can be reached at Roberto.Scalese@globe.com.