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Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father 

Directed by Kurt Kuenne (Mongrel Media)

You won't make it through Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father without crying.

Sure, director Kurt Kuenne's tribute to his murdered friend, Andrew, has its flaws. Kuenne uses some cheap editing cuts and lobs Michael Moore-esque vitriol at public officials who mishandled the case of Shirley Turner, Andrew's spurned ex and likely killer (at one point, Kuenne superimposes Conan O'Brien-style moving lips on a still photo of a judge, as he angrily parrots back her verdict).

Of course, it's unlikely Moore has ever felt as strongly about any of his documentary subjects---not even that damn plant closure in Flint, Michigan---as Kuenne does about Andrew's death, and the (Canadian) bureaucratic travesty that followed it. And Kuenne made his film for a beautiful reason: to pick the brains of the people who'd loved Andrew, so that he could share what he learned with Zachary, the baby Turner announced she was carrying shortly after Andrew's death. Then, near Dear Zachary's end, its story takes another devastating twist.

It's been said the way Kuenne leads up to that surprise is manipulative. It's also heartbreakingly effective.

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Vol 26, No 34
January 17, 2019

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