Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dear Zachary - Just See It

Dear Zachary - Doctor Andrew Bagby is dead, murdered. His childhood friend, Kurt Kuenne creates a documentary about Andrew, one that begins as a letter to Zachary, Andrew's then unborn child. Much of the film is a powerful eulogy of a beloved, very human and immensely likeable friend, son and colleague who died too young. Like most moving eulogies, it has moments of hope and humor, but you will be crying throughout this movie.

Dear Zachary is also a true crime story, one with real suspense that will not be spoiled here. It's a telling indictment of the Newfoundland child welfare, extradition and bail systems. Finally, it is a tribute to Andrew's parents, who persevere through tribulations that make Job look pampered.

Kuenne is on the inside of this story twenty years before it begins, with footage of Andrew from the movies Kuenne shot as a preteen. He has the complete cooperation of Andrew's family and friends and he makes this film as a friend of Andrew with no bones about objectivity. This trips him up only once, when he overuses a mechanically yapping still photo of a judge who did not need any help from Kuenne to look ridiculous.

Kuenne has a lot of footage to work with and he generally edits wisely. While distracting you with the heartwrenching eulogy (most of the many tributes develop something new, but a few seem repetitive) Kuenne sneaks in character and story development and the documentary is suddenly grabbing you like a drama, one that's more powerful because it's real.

Kurt Kuenne produces, directs, scores, etc. MSNBC is distributing this film and it will open soon. Watch for it. An extended eulogy may not sound like a commercial smash, but see this movie. you will be glad you did.

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