There probably won't be a dry eye in San Jose's California Theatre tonight when the international film festival Cinequest opens with "Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World."
It made me tear up and I don't cry easily. San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr was sitting in front of me at an earlier private viewing and he was getting misty-eyed, too. Then again, he's in the documentary.
The inspiring Bay Area story chronicles how then-5-year-old leukemia patient Miles Scott from Tulelake got his wish to be Batman for the day in San Francisco through Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area. He then captured the world's heart through social media with nearly 2 billion people.
That was in November 2013. Today, the Bay Area story still resonates in a big way.
"When you hear a story about a person overcoming a situation and the outpouring of love to a boy, that is going to change your day at least," said Halfdan Hussey, the CEO of Cinequest.
The legacy of the 25-year-old film festival -- running from Feb. 24 to March 8 -- is to empower and inspire, said Hussey. That's why "Batkid Begins" opens it.
The documentary was written and directed by Dana Nachman, who lives in the Bay Area.
"One thing I really appreciate about Cinequest is that they take Bay Area filmmakers and make us feel at home," said Nachman. "Sometimes film festivals don't care. They want the biggest movie on the planet."
There will be 91 U.S. and world films premiering at Cinequest this year, from Mexico to China to Argentina.
Nachman said she was working on another film the day 25,000 people in San Francisco and 2 billion online rallied around the little boy's wish. She set her mind to telling the story of how this extraordinary event unfolded.
She said it was a welcome relief from her previous serious documentaries on victims of terrorism and criminal injustice.
Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area provided most of the real-time video in the documentary
"They had five cameras at the event," said Nachman. "They had hired someone to make a fundraising video for them."
Nachman said there's a lot of begging involved when making documentaries, and being resourceful played a key role in completing the project.
She raised $109,000 through the online global fundraising site Indiegogo. The money covered the cost of the music, animation and some of the panoramic shots using a robotic camera.
It all paid off. In the last month, Julia Roberts made public her plans to produce and star in a Hollywood remake of the "Batkid Begins" documentary. At a recent private viewing of the documentary, it was hinted that Roberts would play the role of Patricia Wilson, the executive director of Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area.
For now, Nachman is thrilled that Miles Scott is in full remission from leukemia and that his story will open Cinequest.
"I think it's just a huge honor to have your film set the tone for a film festival in a beautiful old theater," said Nachman.
More than 100,000 people are expected to attend Cinequest 2015.