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Love, rage and tears – about a letter you shouldn’t miss

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“Mum, I’m not sure I want to go to New York”.

This statement from my youngest daughter took me by surprise. We’de been speaking for a while about possibly going there for a vacation next spring and as our plans started to get more concrete I would have expected her to be jumping with joy.

“Why? You loved New York, don’t you remember? I thought you too wanted to go there again as much as I do?”

“Well, you know. I watched that documentary you recommended to me. I don’t trust their legal system anymore and you really shouldn’t support a country like that”.

The documentary she referred to which had made such an impression that she started to reconsider her travel plans was Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About his Father. I had watched it a few days earlier and then insisted on her doing the same. “I will make you cry your heart out, but you need to see it. It will make you want to become a better human being”.

Surprisingly enough, considering she’s 18 year old, she actually listens to her mother and do as I tell her, at least as long as it comes to movies. After a bunch of successful recommendations it seems as if I’ve earned her trust.

So she watched it, but unlike me she didn’t settle for crying for a while, making a vague promise to herself to become a better human being. She was so upset that she wanted to act according to her beliefs.

I don’t want to get into details about the film, since I think it adds a little something to it if you don’t know where the twists in it eventually will take you. Speaking for myself, it ended in a place that I hadn’t expected at all. This said: even if you know the story I think it’s a perfectly good documentary.

Love and rage
The question is:  how can I describe it without spoiling it? Well, I think I’ll give the word to the filmmaker Kurt Kuenne as he makes an introduction:

“On the afternoon on November 7th 2001 my sister called to tell me that doctor Andrew Bagby, my closest friend since the age of 7, had been killed. My name is Kurt and I’m a filmmaker. Andrew appeared in every movie I made growing up. I decided to make a movie, to travel far and wide, to interview everyone who ever knew and loved Andrew.”

And since it’s revealed in the title, I can also say that Zachary, who the film is made for, is the son of Andrew, who he never met since he was born after Andrew’s death.

As much as it gives a loving portray of Andrew and the people who were close to him, this is also a film full of rage on behalf of people fighting for their rights in a malfunctioning court system. But perhaps more than anything else it’s a film that makes you think, about your own mortality and about the traces you leave in people’s lives.

The question is unavoidable: if I was murdered today, what would I leave behind? Can I truthfully say that I’ve done my best, that my life wasn’t wasted, that I’ve made a difference to the world, if ever so small?

And what if it was someone close to me who got murdered in the way Andrew did? Could I ever gather the strength and courage that Andrew’s parents show?

New York
So what about New York? Well, I decided not to argue whether you actually can affect the court system in a country by not going there as a tourist. Instead I went for geography.

“You know, I don’t think it was the US court system that had the biggest issues here. I think most of the blame was on Canada.

She gave me a look. And I know our New York trip was saved.

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About his Father (Kurt Kuenne, US 2008) My rating: 5/5

Written by Jessica

November 21, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Dear Zachary