Saturday, October 10, 2009

[SFS] Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

For a Friend

What started off as a love letter sort of project for a late friend's son, became something quite horrifically unimaginable as Kurt Kuenne's documentary wore on. It's filled with enough twists and turns, and moments where you would deem manipulative thanks to the power of editing and sledge-hammering some obvious emotional points through, but told in such a compelling, engaging fashion that you can't help but be caught up in both the video memorial, as well as the documentary aspects of some heinous crimes committed.

The project started off as a huge collection of video recordings from family, relatives and friends of Andrew Bagby, who at age 28 was found murdered with 5 gunshot wounds to his body. Kuenne had decided to embark on a cross-country project to document the memories of Andrew's closed ones to allow them to share with his unborn son, their respective tributes and nuggets of information of a man who had his life unfairly cut short. And through this collection of videos, with of course its snippets of Andrew himself making it to the film, allows for the audience to identify and get chummy even with jovial man who's so full of life. Until a mistake was made.

Which involved a relationship with a much older woman, and would spell trouble with a capital T, being the villain which you'd love to hate thanks to the unflattering portrayal put together by Kuenne. Accounts from friends too turn out to be filled with plenty of negative vibes, and she's prime suspect #1 (almost without qualms actually) to be guilty of the homicide. To make matters worse, she's pregnant with Andrew's kid. For the second half of the film, it became sort of a murder-mystery, and follows the uphill battle of Andrew's parents Kate and David Bagby in their custody battle, for which you'll feel an abundance for in the crazy ordeal they were put through deliberately designed to test their mental strength and willpower.

It's a remarkable effort in trying to preserve the memory of someone, fused together with the last days and aftermath of a person's life, and documenting some 3 generations of the unfortunate Bagbys, as well as filling in the inadequacies of the justice system regarding bail. Not to mention too the ridiculousness of the folks sitting high up in their ivory towers and having lost touch with the ground, of the indifferent attitudes such people bear in making what seemed to be irrational decisions and judgements, that probably wouldn't fly over here.

You'll feel some pangs of sorrow for what the film had pieced together, and empathize with both Kate and David for having bear witness to crimes that could have been prevented should proactive, common-sensical action be taken. From what turned out to be trying to capture in essence the multi-facet life we all lead depending on who we're with, and the discovery of new things about a friend passed on, this film took on greater proportions and became a more powerful force in social activism. Not to be missed if you have the opportunity to watch it!

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