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May 1, 2009

5

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

by Franz Patrick


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

This movie left me emotionally drained because I was able to feel a whirlwind of emotions as it unfolded. At first it was about Andrew Bagby’s murder in the hands of the psychotic ex-girlfriend Shirley Turner but then it changes gears twenty minutes later. It then begins to document the struggles that David Bagby and Kathleen Bagby went through in order to take care (and gain custody) of Zachary Bagby, Andrew and Shirley’s son, while at the same time trusting the law to do its job by putting Shirley away for the overwhelming evidence of pre-meditated murder. As the film went on, the rug was pulled from my feet once again and the documentary-family portrait becomes something so much more profound and heartbreaking. I can see how some people could point out and claim that the film is a bit amateurish and shouldn’t be trusted fully because it comes from a close friend of the Bagbys. But considering the many years of custody battles and emotional rollercoasters, I thought the way Kurt Kuenne, the director, told the story was very personal (and sometimes too personal; there were some interviews that made me feel like I shouldn’t be watching or hearing what they’ve got to say) and the amateurish production reflected that. It’s also effecient because I noticed that every twenty minutes or so, the audiences get to learn something new and reevaluate the things that were explored prior to that point. As for the criticism regarding its lack of objectivity, being fair is not the film’s purpose at all. Its purpose is to show how much the Bagbys are loved and Canadian government’s inaction regarding a woman who they claim to be “not a danger to society.” Although I haven’t experienced the pain of losing a friend in the hands of another, I found it easy to relate to the people in this documentary via imagining myself in their situation. Those scenes when David and Kathleen were willing face the murderer of their son just so that they could spend time with their grandson really got to me. I honestly don’t know how they got through it or if I could ever go through it if something similar happens to me. I thought this film was impressive in many respects and it reminded me of the revelatory “Capturing the Friedmans.”

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. poeticgrin
    May 16 2009

    This is one of the rare movies that my husband and I start watching, then turn off one-third of the way through. Perhaps that wasn’t fair to the movie, but we both felt there were way too many points-of-view in that first third and we were overwhelmed. We both looked at each other and *really mean comment alert* said something like, “Well, we just don’t care about this guy they are talking about.” I know that’s bad. But we just weren’t taken.

    Your review makes me wish I’d given it more of a chance -and I might in the future.

    By the way -I’m really impressed by your site!

    Reply
  2. May 19 2009

    It’s soo cute when you say, “My husband and I.” I’m so jealous! Hahaha. My active search for a husband will begin after this comment.

    You (and your hubby) should definitely watch the rest. I thought it managed to gain momentum from beginning to end so it just kept getting better and better. However, there’s payoffs after every 20 minutes or so to keep the audiences engaged and wanting to know more. The whole ordeal that the subjects went through was so heartbreaking. I don’t know what I would’ve done if it happened in my family.

    Thanks for visiting and I hope you come by more often! =]

    Reply
  3. Jane
    Jun 8 2009

    The movie brought me to tears and I can see common things here in America. We should stand together and make this fight universal so no one has to go through what this family has been through.

    Reply
  4. Florence
    Feb 24 2010

    I was truley moved and amazed to see you carry on the way you did. Your son, and your grandson will be watching you and be proud to of had you in there lifes.

    Reply
  5. Dani Meenan
    Feb 25 2010

    What a hard, heart breaking and necessary documentary to watch. Before this programme I had never heard of David Bagby or Zackary Tuner, but you can be damm sure I will never forget their names now. It was a raw depiction of undescribable pain experienced by a couple who found strength from god to do a deal with the devil to spend time with their grandson who would be cruelly snatched from them. They are better people than I, and my thoughts and prayers go out to them. This is a documentary not to be missed.

    Reply

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