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Dear Zachary:A Letter to a Son About His Father

A 2008 documentary made for Zachary Adrew Turner. So when he grew up, he would know what a great man his murdered father was.

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Reviewed: Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father [2008]

  • Jun 14, 2011

N/A - 95mins - Documentary/Crime/Drama - N/A
The last time I cried in any movie was a few years back at the end of The Green Mile and that was a good 5 plus years ago and the time before that was probably The Lion King when I was 7 so it's fair to say that it's quite rare for me to get all emotional during a film. This film though had me blubbering like a schoolgirl who had just lost her favourite teddy.

Dear Zachary follows the true story of Andrew Bagby, a medical resident who was murdered in 2001 shortly after having broken up with his girlfriend Shirley. She then announces she's pregnant with Andrew's child which leads his closest friend Kurt Kuenne to make a film about Andrew as a gift to the child so he will know what his father was like whilst he was alive.

The documentary jumps between these past events and the present in real time so we find out what is unfolding at the same time as the family and friends. The film can be very fast paced and a bit full on especially at the start but this tends to immerse you into the life of Andrew and his family and you become one of them rather than this approach inhibiting the story. There is a lot of focus on Andrew's parents, Kathleen and David, as they go through the emotions of not only coming to terms with the loss of their child but also the challenges in seeking justice for the murderer and fighting for the right with Shirley to see their grandchild.

This movie perfectly sums up an emotional roller coaster ride as the emotions I felt varied wildly from sadness to anger, frustration, hope, inspiration, humour and everything inbetween whilst watching it. I found it even more intense because I knew nothing about the case or this movie coming into it and I recommenced that if you can keep curiosity under control (don't even watch the trailer) to watch it without prior knowledge of what happened, hence why this review might be slightly vague in places.

The fact the documentary is personal to Kuenne brings about a certain objectivity that could not be achieved by another film maker. We get an insight into their life as they grew up in the form of home made movies they did together and family occasions. In some cases this is beneficial as he knows his subject matter better than anyone while in others it's less so as we meet Andrew, the man who has done no wrong in his life (but this bias is understandable, especially considering the intended viewer of the documentary).

Movies are supposed to elicit an emotion from you and for this fact alone, Dear Zachary was able to climb its way into my category for one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. Granted the technical film side may not be the best you are ever going to see but boy it has a story to tell and it's well worth listening to.
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June 14, 2011
I really like movies that can provoke my emotions, I usually go in any movie with a blank slate and if a film awakens my feelings then it's done its job very well. Nice review!!
More Dear Zachary: A Letter to a So... reviews
review by . May 04, 2009
Dear Zachary is a documentary that takes you on twists and turns.   It makes you want to be a better friend, son or daughter, person.     Makes your emotions scream, cry, get mad and want to appreciate your loved ones.   The less you know about this documentary before watching it the better.   Do yourself and favor and rent this movie.      
review by . January 10, 2009
Dear Zachary
Dear Zachary is more than a phenomenally made documentary, but also one of the most tragic stories I've ever seen. You'll unquestionably cry, but at the same time be inspired to live a life that impacts people in a profound way.  
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James ()
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About this movie


Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father is a 2008 American documentary film conceived and created by Kurt Kuenne.

Kuenne's close friend Andrew Bagby was murdered by Shirley Jane Turner after he ended their tumultuous relationship. Shortly after she was arrested, she announced she was pregnant with Bagby's child, a boy she named Zachary. Kuenne decided to interview numerous relatives, friends, and associates of the dead man and incorporate their loving remembrances into a film that would serve as a cinematic scrapbook for the son who never knew him.

The film premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival and was shown at Cinequest Film FestivalSouth by Southwest, the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the Sarasota Film Festival, the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, the Calgary International Film Festival, and the Edmonton International Film Festival, among others, before going into limited theatrical release in the United States, opening in one city at a time in select metropolitan areas. It was broadcast by MSNBC on December 7, 2008 and has been repeated several times since.

Kuenne is donating all profits from the film to a scholarship established in the names of Andrew and Zachary Bagby

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Genre: Documentary
DVD Release Date: October 31, 2008
Runtime: 95 minutes
Studio: MSNBC Films

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