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

Someone (I can't recall who) recommended me Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father a long time ago. The recommendation came with a warming though. This person had also told me that this documentary was not an easy watch which is why I've been putting it off for months. 

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father was conceived and created by Kurt Kuenne, a close friend of Andrew Bagby, the subject of this documentary. The year is 2001 and Andrew, a loved son, friend and colleague, is murdered by his ex-girlfriend not long after breaking up with her. Soon after, she announces she's pregnant, and Kurt decides to make this film as a gift to the child who would never meet his father. 

But it isn't only a recollection of memories and interviews with friends, relatives and colleagues remembering how good of a man Andrew was, or a way to show what a positive impact he had on so many people. It is much more than that.

It shows Andrew's parents, Kathleen and David, as they go through hell. If you know the story or have seen the documentary, you know I'm not kidding about that. Not only the had to suffer the loss of their young and only son, but they had to witness the legal system failing them, over and over again. They had to put up with that crazy woman who killed their son, to negotiate with her to visit their grandchild, Zachary. They even moved from San Jose, California, to Newfoundland, Canada, in hope to get the child's custody.

It also puts on trial the Canadian legal system and reveals a huge problem with many countries' justice system, mine, Italy, included. The fact that some criminals are treated better than their victims and the latter's families. 

Oscilloscope Laboratories
Technically speaking, Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father isn't perfect. The editing, specifically, is poor and a little distracting at times, but the story Kuenne tells is so powerful, it won't bother you at all. Instead, it will keep you interested from start to finish thanks to Kuenne's great storytelling, his alternating between past and present.

Ultimately, this is a heart-wrenching, devastating documentary that will make you laugh and cry but will also anger and disgust you. It's the kind of documentary that sticks with you long after you have seen it. And, as I was told, it is not an easy watch but it's definitely worth it.


  1. This doc broke me. I wasn't familiar with the case at all so the end of it really caught me off guard. My only problem with it was like you said, the editing. Especially for how he revealed the end with that obnoxious sound clip.

    I think we Americans tend to romanticize Canada a bit because their government is mostly better than ours at the moment, but things like this show they have some serious problems to.

    1. We kinda do the same in Italy. We think we are the only with a screwed up justice system but we are not. It looks like it's the same everywhere.

  2. I remember this and it is disgusting. I’m not sure I could sit through this.

    1. You probably wouldn't. I think I only made it through it because I had no idea what happened. I wanted to know about the son and when they said she killed him, and it was devastating!