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“Patriots Day,” the movie about the Boston Marathon bombings starring Mark Wahlberg, has scored the coveted closing-night slot at next month’s AFI Fest in Los Angeles.

The choice by the American Film Institute to screen director Peter Berg’s movie could be a sign that “Patriots Day” will be an Oscar contender. Last year’s AFI closer was director Adam McKay’s “The Big Short,” which went on to receive five Academy Award nominations.

The early word on “Patriots Day” has been positive, with reporting that response to a recent test screen in Las Vegas was “through the roof.”

“‘Patriots Day’ is a moving tribute to the strength of the human spirit, the heroes of Boston and our nation’s capacity to unify in the wake of the unimaginable,” said Jacqueline Lyanga, AFI Fest director, in a statement.

Filmed in and around Boston last spring, “Patriots Day” tells the story of the explosions that killed three and injured hundreds more at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, as well as the manhunt that followed. In addition to Wahlberg, who plays a Boston cop, the cast includes John Goodman as former Police Commissioner Ed Davis, Kevin Bacon as FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers, J.K. Simmons as Watertown Police Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese, and Michelle Monaghan as a nurse.

The film opens in Boston, New York, and LA on Dec. 21 and everywhere else on Jan. 13. The film’s official premiere will be in Boston sometime in December.

Also Wednesday, producers of the movie released a short video about their desire to tell the story without sensationalizing it. Before filming a scene inside the apartment of slain MIT patrol officer Sean Collier, for example, it was suggested to Berg that perhaps the walls, which were pink, should be re-painted. The director said no. He wanted everything as it was. “The truth matters in a situation like this,” Walhberg says in the video.  []

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