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

Andrew Bagby is a 28-year-old medical student who starts a relationship with 41-year-old Shirley Jane Turner. Although his parents and friends get a weird feeling about it, it seems that she makes him happy, at least for a while. He decides to end the relationship, but it’s something Turner can’t handle and his lifeless body is found in a park. It’s a big shock to his family and friends, which gets bigger once they find out that she is pregnant with his child.

When director Kurt Kuenne, one of his childhood friends with whom he made a lot of home movies, hears the story he decides to make a documentary about Andrew. The goal is that this can be shown to his son Zachary when he’s older. This way he can learn who his father was. This movie is more than just a story about Andrew. It is one of the most emotionally gripping documentaries I’ve ever seen.

Kurt Kuenne’s plan is visit all of Andrew’s friends and family and end his trip with seeing Zachary.
It’s a long journey as friends and family live all over America and part of the family lives in the UK. They all tell very interesting stories about what Andrew meant to them.

It’s not the only thing this film shows as it also documents that legal proceeding that take place to convict Andrew’s killer. As Shirley fled to St.John’s it is quite hard to bring her to justice.
It’s not the only legal battle as Andrew’s parent want to be able to see their grandson, which means they will have to talk to their son’s killer to arrange meetings with Zachary. As Shirley has trust issues she’s constantly making up new demands. It’s a horrible situations for Zachary’s grandparents, but as they want to be part of his life it’s something they do for him despite their pain.

The story that Dear Zachary tells is one that you won’t forget anytime soon. As the story progresses things get more shocking and the impact of this movie is bigger than your average fictionalised drama/thriller as this is a real story about real people. The main reason for the impact this movie has on your emotions is that the editing really is top-notch. The story slowly takes hold of your emotions and won’t let go, even after the movie itself finishes. It’s a devastating story which you’ll remember for a while, which makes Dear Zachary a documentary which should be high on your “to watch” list.

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