Floyd Russ, director of the new Netflix docuseries American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing, wasn’t able to interview the one person in the world who is able to address all the unanswered questions about the tragic 2013 bombing.
That person is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who, along with his now-deceased brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, carried out a deadly bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon and later killed an MIT police officer. The reason Dzhokhar can’t be interviewed is that he’s currently on death row in a supermax prison where interviews with inmates are not allowed.
But if Russ could somehow speak to the remaining Tsarnaev brother, he knows what tough question he would ask him.
What Floyd Russ Would Have Asked the Surviving Tsarnaev Brother Responsible for the Boston Marathon Bombing
“We never got to a point where I started seriously drafting questions for Dzhokhar, because we wrote multiple letters, we talked to his attorney, but no one has ever been interviewed in supermax where he’s held or questioned in any form — they just don’t allow it. I think you just have to start with a question like, why would you do this?” Russ tells MovieMaker.
“You start there. But my interview process is not that simple. It takes several hours to sit down and kind of draft a narrative of questions so that when you ask the question why, you don’t just do it right out the gate. You want to do it when someone’s totally open and remembers why.”
Without access to Tsarnaev, Russ tried to gather as much information about what caused the bombing in order to bring some sort of peace to the survivors of the bombing — which include 17 people who lost limbs and many dozens more who were injured — as well as the families of the three victims who lost their lives that day: 23-year-old Lingzi Lu, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, and 8-year-old Martin Richard.
But the director knows that full closure may never be possible.
“This is a manhunt to catch the bombers. But beyond that, it’s a manhunt to understand why this happened,” Russ says. “This 10-year anniversary I think is symbolic because people want closure, and closure isn’t a simple thing. It doesn’t just come with, oh, I closed the book, and I move on. It doesn’t exist in this story, in an event like this,” Russ said.
“I wanted to make sure that when people watch it, they feel like they walk away from this thinking, Okay, I fully understand what happened,” he added.
Where Are the Boston Marathon Bombing Brothers’ Parents?
“You can never understand why a person becomes a terrorist unless we can actually talk to that person, but one is dead and the other one is in Supermax, so we can’t talk to him. So we went through people that knew the bombers: the neighbor, the teacher, the best friend. We could not get ahold of the father and mother. Sadly, they haven’t been in anything.
Tracking down the parents of the Tsarnaev brothers has also proven surprisingly difficult, said Russ.
“They live in Russia. But finding all the archival material we could, we pieced together the story of what we felt was most pertinent in terms of showing what happened to them [the Tsarnaev brothers] between moving to Boston 10 years before the bombing, as hopeful immigrants, and then becoming bombers that day.”
All three episodes of American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing are now streaming on Netflix.
Main Image: American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing. Still Image courtesy of Netflix