Dear Zachary


I was trying to study when my girlfriend put this on. We’re sitting beside each other, and I’m only half-listening to the story of a man who is murdered – allegedly by his ex-girlfriend. The same ex-girlfriend who is pregnant with his unborn child. And one of the man’s best friends – a documentary filmmaker – who decides he’s going to interview all the friends and family of the victim to give as a gift to the unborn child to let him know how great his father was.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t terribly interested in watching it. I’ve passed by it on Netflix so many times, thinking that it sounded kind of interesting, but still a bit too dry. I mean, it sounds like a nice gesture to Zachary (the then-unborn child of the victim), but I couldn’t really understand what the appeal would be for a mass audience. A documentary about memorializing a man I’ve never met, and all these people saying how great he was? Is that really it? Short answer: no.

I was trying to ignore the film when it was on, and at first, it seemed like a legitimate reaction. The footage is amateur and of very poor quality – it’s pretty much exactly what you would see on a home video (which is understandable, as most of the past footage is from home videos). But it will draw you in. I actually had to stop everything I was doing and pay attention to what was happening. It’s a shattering and disturbing story – the documentary isn’t only focused on telling us about the victim, it’s also focused on the machinations of the ongoing murder trial and the Canadian legal system. There will be moments where you are sick to your stomach, and other moments where you can’t speak. It’s a powerful, powerful film.

If you’re looking for a movie that will affect you, it’s right here. I think it’s still on Netflix, and I strongly urge you to watch it before it’s not.

Grade: A

Sidenote: The filmmaker (also the victim’s best friend) does the voice-over for much of the film. We’re so used to unemotional, flat voice-overs that it’s jarring to hear one in a tone of sadness and anger. It’s a very effective choice in a nontraditional documentary.


One Response to Dear Zachary

  1. Nostra says:

    One of the best documentaries I think that’s available, it really is an emotional and devestating film to watch. I’ve interviewed director Kurt Kuenne about another movie and he told me that the things that happened had impact on writing that movie. He recently released an epilogue to Dear Zachary,telling about the impact it had on the Canadian legal system. I’ve put it up if you would like to watch it:

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