Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

Synopsis: In 2001, Andrew Bagby, a medical resident, is murdered not long after breaking up with his girlfriend. Soon after, when she announces she's pregnant, one of Andrew's many close friends, Kurt Kuenne, begins this film, a gift to the child. Friends, relatives, and colleagues say warm and loving things about Andrew, home movies confirm his exuberance. Andrew's parents, Kathleen and David, move to Newfoundland, Canada where the ex-girlfriend has gone. They await an arrest and trial of the murderer. They negotiate with the ex-girlfriend to visit their grandchild, Zachary, and they seek custody. Is there any justice; is Zachary a sweet and innocent consolation for the loss of their son?
Director(s): Kurt Kuenne
Production: Oscilloscope Pictures
  1 win & 5 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
95 min

- Charismatic.

- Opinionated.

I'd have to point out

he was short.

But he was a giant of a man.

Really a good


He was completely selfless.

- Animated.

- Kind.

- Jubilant.

- Caring.

- Devilish.

- Laid-back, very approachable.

Can I say things

that are not completely

flattering and wonderful?

He had the capacity

to have the worst possible gas.

And he'd be proud of that.


He wasn't a saint.

He was a hell of guy.

He was just so intelligent,

and, um, I'm gonna cry.

I'm sorry.

Why are you sad?


Oh, I'll tell you

about it someday.

Do you know who that is?


Do you know who Andrew is?

I don't know.

Why did Andrew get killed?

Because somebody hurt him,


I'm an only child,

and I'll get around to why this

is of any importance whatsoever,

but, trust me, there's a theme.

Where were you

when you found out?


who's on the front desk,

calls back and says,

"Kate, there's a policeman from

Sunnyvale on the line for you.

Do you want to talk to him?"

And I said, "Oh, yes,

put it through to the office."

"Are you Kathleen Bagby?"

I said yes.

"I've got a message here

from Pennsylvania.

You're to call this number.

It's the coroner's office.

You've got bad news."

I said, "Is my son dead?"

And he said,

"I can't tell you that, madam,

but you've got terrible news."

I dialed this number

that he'd given me.

And it was a man, an irate man.

The coroner's office

was closed down.

There was nothing

he could do about it.

"You have to call back

tomorrow morning."

I called back

to the Sunnyvale Police Station,

so he gave me another number,

and then I got through

to Sgt. Krulac, and he said,

"Your son is dead

under suspicious circumstances.

Have you got any idea

why he was in the park?"

I said, "My son is dead?


He said yes.

And then I called David.

And I said to him,

"Andrew's dead."

And he said, "No!"

And I heard him throw the phone.

I called Sgt. Krulac back,

and I said, "We're coming,"

and he said,

"Well, that's good."

Through that flight,

we thought

we'd go get Andrew,

bring him back to California,

get everything organized,


and then kill ourselves,

'cause no point in going on.

That was the first plan.

Obviously, we didn't do that.

And then she gave me

the list to call,

and we started calling.

I came home, and there was

a message from Barbara.

- Kate called me.

- It was Tuesday morning.

I was just coming

out of surgery.

- I was doing something...

- I was in the living room.

How many people got

a kick in the head from this?

Everybody always says,

"What would be the difference

if one person weren't alive?"

I came home

on November 7, 2001,

to find a message

from my sister.

Hi. It's Heather.

It's about 9:

At 3:
41 p.m.,

I called her back.

She told me to sit down.

In the original news,

they said,

"Unidentified man in his 30s

was found in hospital scrubs."

None of those words

described who he was,

and they could put them on paper

and make them true.

Nobody said, "This person,

this wonderful person,

was hurt."

We met in first grade

at St. Andrew's School

in Saratoga, California,

and I soon came to think of him

as my closest friend.

It was here,

in the San Jose Bay Area,

scattered across the suburbs

that make up Silicon Valley,

that we all grew up.

There was Chris.

Do I remember how I met Andrew?

It was second grade.

And Matt.

I can say without shame

that we bathed together.


He was the first friend I made

my first day of school.


We met the first day of class

because of our names,

Atkinson and Bagby.


We talked for about 20,

and I realized,

"Wow, this guy's pretty cool."


Oh, I'm sure you got to hear

things I didn't get to hear.

Between the two of us,

we might actually be able to put

together a half-decent story.

And there was me.

My name's Kurt,

and I'm a filmmaker.

I'm Kurt Kuenne,

and I play Indiana Jones.

He appeared in every movie

I made growing up.

We made a movie!

He loved playing bad guys...

Shut up!

Jeff, get the cocaine.

A's, huh?

You must be a smart boy.

...and having

a free pass to smoke and swear

in front of his parents.

I will f*** you up!

Kiss my ass, you son of a b*tch!

Christ, start the f***ing car

and get out of here!

F*** you!

F*** all you f***ing people!

I did not say the F-word.

I'm sorry.

Which was probably

kind of a cool release

for a kid who made Eagle Scout

by age 15.

Mrs. Bagby, having watched it

where Andrew was running around

yelling and screaming,

kind of went...

I can't really remember being...

"Oh, that's not my son!"

Perhaps you have

a different idea

that I got all upset about it.

"Not my son!"

And, eventually,

I even got them in on the act.

Son of a b*tch, you little sh*t!

You're a pain in the ass.

- You little bastard!

- Does that give you the right

to go yelling about your penis

on the air?

It wasn't always fun and games.

- You son of a b*tch!

- Ow! Jesus!

Did I actually hit you?

- I didn't hurt your hand, did I?

- Yes, but don't worry about it.

And if you knee me in the balls

again, I'm going to kill you.

And I know

I drove him nuts sometimes.

Could you do that one more time?

- One more time.

- Okay, one more time.

One more time.

I want to see that one more

time. That was perfect.

The famous "one more time" line.

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Kurt Kuenne

Kurt Kuenne is an American filmmaker and composer. He has directed a number of short and feature films, including Rent-a-Person, the YouTube film Validation, described as "a romantic epic in miniature", and the documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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