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Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

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Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

In 2001, Andrew Bagby, a medical resident, is murdered not long after breaking up with his girlfriend. Soon after, when she announces she's pregnant, one of Andrew's many close friends, Kurt Kuenne, begins this film, a gift to the child.

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Release : 2008
Rating : 8.3
Studio :
Crew :
Cast : Kurt Kuenne Andrew Bagby David Bagby Kathleen Bagby Shirley Turner
Genre : Crime Documentary

Cast List

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Reviews

gacha2013
2014/12/27

Disturbingly monological doc---Although I would agree that the documentary recounts a sad story, I had heard about the story in the news, so I knew how the story ended. Without giving the basic plot of this documentary away, it's a very sad and sometimes frustrating narrative. The story of the way the justice system worked with regard to a local woman, Shirley Turner, in St. John's, Newfoundland sounds pretty stupid on the part of most of the lawyers and judges involved in the case. Nevertheless, as a documentary this is an awful piece of filmmaking. The story involves the murder of a young American man, Andrew Bagby, by a Canadian woman from Newfoundland, Shirley Turner. The director was a childhood friend of the deceased and part of the narrative is the journey literally taken by car from California to Nfld. by the director/filmmaker. Along the way the director meets friends of the deceased and there is even a few moments given to mourn the death of a relative of the deceased from cancer. Why? Because he was a relative of the deceased and a hell of a nice guy. The documentary criticizes the problems with the justice system in St John's, Nfld. that affect the murder case and later events. But there is absolutely no attempt to research this topic besides some scenes purporting to be cold calls to some of the lawyers and judges. We view the story largely through the eyes of the director and the parents of the young American man. Thus the film is basically a moral condemnation and denunciation of the woman Turner. But what struck me in the end was that the woman who murdered Bagby was seriously ill. I am not excusing this woman, but in the end it is quite obvious to me that she was just being who she was, a seriously disturbed and potentially violent person. Therefore, despite all the best of intentions of the filmmaker and the friends and family of Bagby, the anger, hostility, and moral condemnation against a person who was obviously mentally disturbed creates a strange effect on a film supposedly made to show love for the deceased Bagby and a child who was possibly his son (considering the erratic behavior of Turner, I wondered if anyone actually ever verified whether the child was Bagby's for certain). Turner was a sick person. That goes without saying. But in the end the hostility towards her just seems to me to show that those involved, including Bagby's parents and the filmmaker himself, were "infected" by the horrible person named Turner (truly the movie's "villain") so that they too end up as spiteful and antagonistic as Turner. In other words, everyone plays along with Shirley Turner. With a disturbing atmosphere of self-righteous and un-self-conscious aggressivity, the film attempts to gloss over emotions of violence and hatred. But by hating Shirley Turner so clearly, the film asks the viewer to participate in the same emotions of manipulation and twisted emotionality it condemns in Turner herself. I felt at times that the use of repetition of some of the clips was truly in bad taste. The closing words of a letter "Love Kurt" cannot hide the pure hatred and revenge the film perpetuates. I suppose if the purpose of the film is to vent and spew hatred against a mentally deranged person, "Dear Zachary" is a success. Personally, I found it awful that they would ask one of Turner's own children from a previous relationship to come on camera to castigate a mother who probably left him long ago. But everything is fair game since it is after all for Andrew Bagby, then for Zachary, and finally for the Bagby parents, those loving grandparents who decided that their son lived in the child carried by Shirley Turner, a disturbed, violent, psychopathic woman who wanted to be recognized so much, even of it meant making those around her want to kill her. And they do.

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Robyn Nesbitt (nesfilmreviews)
2012/12/29

Extraordinary.---What starts as tragic story of an extraordinary young man being murdered, begins to takes unimaginable twists and turns leaving the viewer stunned in disbelief. In 2001, Andrew Bagby, a medical resident, is murdered by his ex-girlfriend in Lancaster, PA. Shortly after her arrest she announces she's pregnant with Andrew's child. Kurt Kuenne, one of Andrews friends, begins a cross country trip to make a film for Zachary, a father he will never know. Running parallel to this devastating story is the remarkable family and friends of the victim, displaying relentless perseverance keeping Andrews spirit alive and how he touched so many lives around the world. Andrew's devastated parents uproot their entire lives and relocate to Canada in order to fight for the future of their newborn grandson. During this time, the Canadian government freed Turner (ex-girlfriend) on bail as she awaited extradition to the United States. As a result, a tragic story of loss evolves into the unimaginable. Despite this painful story of loss, it is the awe-inspiring people that make this documentary so poignant and unforgettable.

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Lloyd Vinnik
2012/08/26

Shattering---Having just experienced the joy of Kuenne's most recent film "Shuffle," I sat down with this one expecting a sad but warm'n'fuzzy (and obviously personal) account of friendship and loss. And that's what he set out to make. But who knew that such Real Evil exists in this world, and that his tale would turn into one of Horror that would leave me intensely depressed, angry and shattered? This a mighty, mighty difficult journey to take, but it's personal, independent filmmaking at its absolute zenith, and was worth the extra dose of Clonazepam I needed to get through it. Kuenne is quite the multiple threat...the brilliant editing that hammers the bigger moments home with unbearable ferocity is his, and the trenchant music score is his. This is an Important Talent, and I'll be in line for whatever he does next. And may I say to Mr. Kuenne that I'm so sorry that life dealt you, as well as Dr. Bagby's wonderful family and circle of friends, such unspeakable horror.

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Matt_Layden
2011/10/18

A haunting and devastating documentary that will stay with you for days.---There are many documentaries that are better than this one, specifically from a technical stand point. The biggest shortcoming on this film is the poor editing. It was never meant to be released theatrically, it was meant for the family it focuses on, so there are forgivable aspects, but it is indeed distracting to watch the film with distracting editing choices. Parts of the film do feel really messy and quickly put together. The subject matter on the other hand is one of the most heart wrenching things I've had to watch. It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion and you sit there, helpless with nothing to do. The film is about Andrew, a 30 year old male who was shot to death, 5 times, from his ex-girlfriend. The filmmaker, one of his best friends, decided to make a film dedicated to the memory of his friend. Along the way they discover that the ex-girlfriend was 4 months pregnant with Andrew's child. Now the film switches focus and becomes a "letter" of sorts to Zachary (the child) about the father he will never get the chance to meet.That's only a fraction of the emotional core of the film. I have nothing but utter respect and disbelief in the strengths of Andrew's parents, for what they chose to go through in order to be apart of Zachary's life. The director manages to showcase Andrew enough to make it seem like the viewer knew him by the end of the film. I have to hand it to Kurt (the director) as well, he goes to great lengths to speak to and film every person that had some sort of involvement in Andrew's life. His family, his friends, his co-workers, etc. He goes on a cross country trip to track down these people and talk to them. There was undoubtedly hours upon hours of footage to splice together and as I mentioned before this film was never meant for theatrical release. So the entire production was done by Kurt. Every aspect he had control over and it's a heavy task. His relationship with the subject matter makes the doc extremely subjective. Yet with all the evidence presented, is there another way to look at it? An abundance of emotion overcame me while watching this documentary. The two that stood out to me was sadness and anger. The filmmakers shortcomings from his technical aspects isn't a deterrent to the overall film. I say that everyone should go out and seek the film. If you have Netflix, it's available. It's a must see film.

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DeHeldin
2011/08/06

Overwhelming and pure---I just watched this documentary and I'm so, so....overwhelmed, impressed, sad, angry en full of hope.The film itself is beautiful made. It is perfect the way it is. The quality, the editing, the music.. It did not need more 'stuff'. No, I am no filmmaker but it is just so pure and that was exactly what this story needed, something pure.I am so sad for 'Bagsby' and his little, cute son he is now comforting, they are together somewhere I hope. Zachary looked so much like my youngest daughter who is 17 months now so I was falling madly in love with the little boy on my TV. And then he died. The woman who gave him life ended it. I did not see that coming, strangely enough, and I was deeply shocked. Sweet, sweet boy...I hope you rest in peace in your dad's soft and caring arms <3After sobbing for half an hour I did see hope though, what a beautiful people are the Bagsby's and what a beautiful people are all of their friends. The world has beauty in it because of people like that. Keep strong, keep fighting and keep remembering. Kurt, you made a perfect film that touches lots of hearts I think and although it would be so much better if you did not need to make this film, I truly feel there is a reason I saw this today. Thank you very much.

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