When 28-year-old Andrew Bagby entered into a relationship with 40-year-old Shirley Jane Turner, Andrew’s immense community of friends and family felt a distinct unease with this strange woman. Beloved everywhere he went and blessed with a rare inner fountain of goodwill and humor, Andrew eventually came to agree with the majority opinion and hoped to break up with Turner one night before heading over to a friend’s house. The next day his body was discovered riddled with bullets, with Turner fleeing to Canada soon after to avoid prosecution. What ensued after the grisly murder makes up the bulk of :Dear Zachary,_ and it’s a story that’s not easily forgotten. The senseless death of Andrew Bagby is only the prologue to Kuenne’s film: a clenched, tireless love letter to Andrew’s infectious spirit as well as a cinematic exorcism of sorts, clearing away the demons that surrounded his final days.
Attempting to mourn the loss of his pal, Kuenne packed up a camera and took off on a tour of Andrew’s dearest friends and family, transporting him around the globe to reach out to loved ones who wanted to share their feelings on the man few could accept was truly gone. Working with home movies and photos, Kuenne has created a stirring portrait of Andrew: a gentle soul who adored company, struggled with vocational setbacks, and appreciated the beauty of the world around him. Dear Zachary is a monumentally emotional documentary, narrated by Kuenne to a point of tears simply impossible to hold back. The love that flows through this film is overwhelming, but it’s justified by Kuenne’s intent to construct an image of Andrew that would eventually come to be perverted by Turner’s psychosis.
Left without a son, Andrew’s dogged parents, David and Kate, flew to Newfoundland to oversee the extradition process. What they found was an indefatigably negligent justice system in Canada that was sympathetic to Turner (eventually letting her out on bail) and, to everyone’s shock, the prospect of a grandson. With Turner pregnant with Andrew’s baby, the Bagbys found a whole new reason to engage a woman they vehemently despised, hoping to be awarded custody of little Zachary when Turner finally found her day in court. Years would eventually pass before any progress was made on both fronts. —DVDtalk.com
When the film started, I was annoyed at it's pacing and style but by the time it ended I was completely sobbing. This is one of the saddest things I've ever seen in my entire life. I was completely unaware of the story going in and therefore when it took a turn for the worst my heart just dropped. I don't know if I've ever seen such a wide display of both human evil and kindness in just one film. Gorgeous. 5 stars.
A really sad and crude documentary with a lot of emotional impact that makes a detailed chronicle about the murders of Shirley Turner and at the same time, it shows us the great impact both of her victims left on so many people. It can be a tough watch but its a story worth knowing. Kuenne had risks doing this film with such a personal tie but it was really well made and never missed the point in the narrative.
It’s hard to talk about Dear Zachary and even harder to write about it. I first heard of the film in a documentary class when a fellow student, who declared it an incredible but intensely… read review
‘Dear Zachary’ is a distressing story where the director’s intimate involvement creates truly painful and infuriating viewing. Most will be moved by the plight of the Bagbys and friends, as I was… read review
Non-fiction and me, we don’t generally get along. Not that the truth is something I try to avoid, I just usually find documentaries too much like a school lesson, teaching rather than entertaining… read review