Wednesday, April 22, 2015
"Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About his Father": the substance is like that of a Dateline crime report, but it is so personal
“Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About his Father” (2008), by Kurt Kuenne, a film produced by MSNBC but distributed by Oscilloscope, has the substance of an NBC Dateline crime story.
The filmmaker tells the tragic story of the parents of a little boy, Zachary, intended as a scrapbook for the kid, whose own life would be taken by his mother (in suicide) as well as his father’s. The film self-documents its own creation as Kuenne drives across North America, finding Newfoundland an interesting and dank place.
The narrative starts when medical student (or resident) Andrew Bagby, childhood friend of Kuenne (they used to make home movies together) breaks up with a girl friend Shirley Turner, who is apparently pregnant with Zachary. Bagby puts her on a plane from Pennsylvania back to Iowa, but is soon shot to death in a state park near Pittsburgh.
Turner becomes the suspect but flees to Canada, Newfoundland. Much of the film concerns the legal technicalities about her bail and extradition. After the birth of Zachary, Bagby’s parents (David and Kathleen) spend their life savings to move to Canada and raise Zachary, but then further tragedy ensues, and the nature of the film itself changes with it.
The film (93 minutes) has a fast pace; the narrator Kuenne talks fast, and there are a lot of stills, ad the aspect ratio is only 4:3, as if for pre-wide-screen TV. But the film played in numerous festivals and won awards and is well-liked by critics and audiences.
I watched the film on Netflix.
See the Wiki on Zachary Turner here.
The official site is here.