Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

Disturbing, shocking and surprising, Dear Zachary and its tragic story aren't easily forgotten. Filmmaker Kurt Kuenne tells the story of the murder of Dr. Andrew Bagby and the subsequent events that led to a related death. Bagby was one of Kuenne's best childhood pals. With dreams of becoming a film maker, Kuenne includes footage of Bagby embodying the roles in which Kuenne cast him in their films of youth.

Bagby, a native Californian, uproots to Canada for medical school. Following the break-up of his engagement, he meets an older woman and they begin dating.

Zachary and His Grandparents, The Bagbys This documentary showcases raw emotions, persuasive interviews and unbelievable facts. Suspense builds, climaxes and builds again with plenty of twists. It's filled with commentary about the Canadian legal and child protection systems and highlights their failings in this case. For optimal viewing pleasure, I recommend you see it rather than reading on.

(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)

You didn't listen. Okay, then...

Details of the relationship are sketchy, but when Bagby leaves Newfoundland and returns to the states to start a surgery residence, the two stay in touch. According to accounts from Bagby's friends, ex-girlfriend Dr. Shirley Turner was obsessed with him, calling him hundreds of times in a day and showing up at his house almost 2K miles away, unannounced. When Bagby agrees to meet her one last time, he ends up riddled with five bullet holes and left dead, face down, in a park.

Dear Zachary plays like a thriller. Many of Bagby's friends are interviewed. The most compelling are those of  Bagby's grieving parents, Kathleen and David Bagby. They express angry, sadness, powerless, vulnerability throughout their interviews. However, they aren't simply mourning the loss of their son. After Turner is accused of Bagby's murder, she announces she's pregnant with his child. After Zachary is born, Kate and David struggle with Turner to secure time with Zachary. They relocate from California to Canada. They stay involved in the court proceedings and forge a relationship with their grandson. They must maintain in decent graces with the manipulative and seemingly mentally ill, Turner. The cat-and-mouse game continues until the next tragedy, Zachary' Andrew Turner's death. For more information, visit

Director, Writer, Producer: Kurt Kuenne

Country: US

Genre: Documentary

Run time:  95 minutes

Scale: 5

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