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Slamdance 2015: BATKID BEGINS: THE WISH HEARD AROUND THE WORLD (review)

Review by Clay N Ferno
Produced by Liza Meak, Dana Nachman
Written By Dana Nachman, Kurt Kuenne
Directed by Dana Nachman
Featuring Miles Scott, Natalie Scott , Nick Scott, 
Teresa Clovicko, Audrey Copper, Katie Cotton, 
Ama Daetz, Mike DeJesus, Ej Johnston, Sue Graham Johnston, Mike Jutan

Having just returned from San Francisco, I can safely say that the city is intact, largely thanks to a brave little boy named Miles Scott aka Batkid.

By thwarting The Riddler and The Penguin and saving not only a lady on the trolley tracks but also SF Giants mascot Lou Seal, Miles was given the Key to the City from Mayor Ed Lee on November 15, 2013.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation made Miles’ dream come true and in turn, a city was transformed into a heroic playground for the leukemia survivor.

Batkid saved the day, took over our social media for the afternoon and everyone from fellow Batmen Affleck, Kilmer and Keaton to President Obama thanked him for his service.

Batkid Begins documents the small town of Tulelake, CA family’s battle with cancer and the redeeming qualities of community based action. What was meant to be perhaps 100 volunteers turned into an entire city playing a small background character in a real life Batman Movie starring our Batkid, a five-year-old Miles Scott.

I remember ‘Batkid’ Day.

We’re three hours ahead so here on the East Coast this was prime twitter time for me. It was unavoidable. Even Facebook’s algorithms couldn’t stop that which was the heart of this thing.

It was all over everywhere, and I shared and retweeted as much as I saw from #SFBATKID on Twitter, reading about this amazing story.

Batkid Begins tells the story of Miles and his parents and their struggle since Miles was diagnosed at 18 months. Can cancer just stop it already? I mean that villain goes after a young kid that just wants to play with his toys all day and run around in a cape. Actually, as clarified near the beginning of the movie, 18 months is old enough to qualify for the amazing work of Make-A-Wish, but the parents smartly waited until he was a bit older and he fought his own battles and became more of a person before asking Miles what his wish would be.

Naturally, putting anyone, let alone a kid, through countless draining hours of treatment can take its toll. Steroids, chemo, the whole stinkin’ lot of it is the pits. What comes out of that is a spirit of being a fighter. And that is around the time Miles’ Dad Nick introduced him to Adam West on TV as Batman. Our little Bruce Wayne fell head over heals for the Caped Crusader and demanded his own cape for dress-up.

When Make-A-Wish returned to the Scott’s lives, Miles said simply he wanted to be Batman. Not meet Batman, not hang out with Batman. He wanted to BE BATMAN. Make-A Wish’s Patricia Wilson was the one in charge of making it happen. With the cooperation of S.F.P.D. Chief Greg Suhr and an acrobatic stuntman/gadget inventor Eric “EJ” Johnston, the foundation was set to make San Francisco into Gotham City for the day.

Local KGO-TV anchor Ama Deatz got in on the action too as the plot for an ‘Episode’ for Miles to be engaged in came from a television news flash. But that is hardly the end of the story for the media’s involvement. From street level twitter campaigns to global newspaper and blog coverage, the day of Batkid was a beacon of hope. Batik served as a shining yellow Batsymbol into the sky touching hearts around the world.

If you are unfamiliar with what went down that day, the basic plot took Miles from a pre-training day with the ‘Justice League’ Circus Center to him awakening to Batman (EJ) at his hotel room door being asked to suit up! His little brother Clayton showed support by decking himself out in full Robin garb.

Miles was the center of attention, however, as he went to the Batcave (loading dock of Hyatt Regency SF) and strapped into the Batmobile. Through some man-made fog, the Lamborghini with a Batsymbol on it rolled out onto his first mission into the Russian Hill neighborhood where a damsel in distress was tied to a bomb laid by The Riddler. That damsel was EJ’s wife Sue Graham Johnston, who was of course rescued by the Dynamic Duo.

All the while, from street to street, thousands upon thousands of fans holding up “SAVE US BATKID” signs showed support for our little man. S.F.P.D. motorcycle cops came in from being off-duty just to ride next to Miles and make sure he made it to the next spot. Miles captured Riddler in a bank vault — and all of this is before lunch!

Even though our Batkid was getting tuckered out, he stuck with it to take on his next foil, The Penguin! Left with a riddle from The Riddler.

“Batkid! Riddle Me This! What flies underwater, sly as a ghost, wanting to snatch, what this city loves most?”

SF Giants mascot Lou Seal (who needed to take an Uber to the crime scene!) was overtaken by The Penguin and the resulting car chase brought the action to AT&T Park! With some cool acrobatics learned in training the night before, our Batkid was able to knuckleball the knucklehead and save Lou from his slippery aquatic captor.

Much like my favorite movie, Star Wars, Mayor Ed Lee celebrated Miles & Batman’s accomplishments by offering him with a Key to the City at the end of the ‘Episode’.

As I mentioned before, everyone from Keaton to Kilmer, Bale and Affleck along with and a congratulatory Vine from President Obama were in Gotham City that day, united by one hashtag, #SFBATKID.


This truly incredible story about how a city can transform to make a kid’s dream come true is worth the watch.

Be sure to have plenty of Bat-Kleenex, as the story is sad (in a good way?). Not because Miles was sick, but the heartfelt emotions of people banding together for something great and touching happens nearly once a lifetime. Rarely have I felt as emotional watching a documentary as I had watching this one. Having the world rally around Batkid for just one day made up for years of losing faith in humanity.

However brief, Batkid Begins relives the magic of that day for us to hold in our hearts and gain perspective on our individual situations.

It has been announced that Julia Roberts is producing and co-starring in a feature length movie of Batkid, but this is documentary is the real deal.

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