Dear Zachary
January 2, 2009 11:21 PM   Subscribe

Kurt Kuenne is a filmmaker and composer. His light hearted, modern fairy tales have a strange continuity to them. Validation is the story of how free parking can change your life. Rent-A-Person is a musical about restroom attendants and Slow is about the power of travel. But Kurt's work isn't just fairy tales.

He filmed Dear Zachary, a memorial for his best friend, Dr. Andrew Bagby. (Trailer)

Andrew was found shot to death in Keystone State Park. Investigations quickly led to Shirley Turner, an estranged girlfriend. Shirley fled to Canada, where she was arrested. Extradition proceedings began.

Midway through the filming of the documentary and the extradition hearings, it was discovered that Shirley Turner was pregnant with Andrew Bagby's child. The documentary Kurt was filming became a message to Andrew's son about his father and the people who loved him.

The child, Zachary, was born,
and Andrew's parents, David and Kate Bagby began custody proceedings. The extradition hearings dragged for months. Shirley was released on bail while maintaining custody of Zachary.

On August 18th, 2003, both Shirley and Zachary were found dead in an apparent Murder/Suicide.

Extensive reviews(pdf) have blamed child welfare, social services, the court psychiatrist , and the canadian legal system

David Bagby maintains a memorial for his son and grandson, and has written a book, Dance with the Devil: A Memoir of Murder and Loss

Dear Zachary is currently at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
posted by Lord_Pall (7 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
This is a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing. I particularly love Validation.
posted by Caduceus at 1:15 AM on January 3, 2009

Woke up in the wee hours of the night and turned to MetaFilter for momentary company. Watched Dear Zachary. ahh. What a charming, existentially joyful short about 'seeing' one's life, savoring it.

Thank you for that peace of mind.

Then I went on to the rest of the post, about Kurt Kuenne's filming the Shirley Turner homicide-suicide saga. oh well.

From the details of the stories it sounds like Shirley Turner was suffering from malignant Borderline Personality Disorder (the repeated suicide attempts, stalking, emotional volatility, abandonment issues, dramarama) with Antisocial Personality Disorder (2 homicides and a suicide) traits.

Because of the terrible impact that the Axis II Cluster B personality disorders have on the people who are close to those who suffer from these disorders, it really is essential for society to be able to recognize people with these disorders, protect themselves and especially protect children.

By the time she started studying medicine, she had been divorced twice, had three children and had attempted suicide over failed relationships, according to the report.

In one instance, she followed a former boyfriend from Halifax to eastern Pennsylvania. The man came home one day to find an unconscious Turner wearing a black dress and clutching a bouquet of roses.

Beside her was a suicide note that read:

"I'm not evil, just sick."

The problem with the BPDed (and all those with the Axis II Cluster Bs) is that they are unable to see the evil they do. Sadly, those who are unable to see the evil beyond the deft camouflage end up having their lives severely damaged, sometimes irreparably.
posted by nickyskye at 2:19 AM on January 3, 2009

I think the word 'poignant' was invented just for this man's work.
As one commenter posted on the Validation video:
This was one of the best uses of 16 1/2 minutes I had in a very long time. Thank you.

Thank you.
posted by Kerasia at 4:26 AM on January 3, 2009

"I'm not evil, just sick."

It took me a long, long time to understand that the BPD person in my life was not sick, she was just plain evil. You're right, nickyskye, that these people must be identified so that potential victims can protect themselves. We need to be alert to the behavioral cluster you mention (suicide attempts, stalking, emotional volatility, abandonment issues, dramarama) -- and not feel guilty about running like the devil when we see it coming.
posted by Faze at 6:15 AM on January 3, 2009

oops. It was Slow that I watched, that is the one so existentially charming, not Dear Zachary. (Note to self, do not post comments when half asleep).

Thanks for the validation Faze. Sorry you had to survive any enmeshment with a malignant BPD. It's bad enough to endure evil as an adult, kids don't stand a chance. They get savaged.

The thing is that the people with Axis II Cluster B personality disorders are, in fact, sick. But it's a rigid, all-pervasive sickness with only the most superficial aspects (depression, compulsivity, mania, addiction etc.) i.e. some behavior modification, which is treatable. The *core issues* of their illness and fragility are stuck, for life.

It's an innate, emotionally healthy human ability to seek betterment, redemption in ourselves and others. Without knowing what the nature of the illness is with the Axis II Cluster Bs, it's natural to want and prefer to cut people some slack. But that's like treating an Ebola virus with a get well soon card. Doesn't work, makes things worse and it puts people's lives at risk of misery, agony and death.
posted by nickyskye at 9:22 AM on January 3, 2009

My wife started watching Validation, as posted somewhere by one of her friends. I googled about, found out more, and then found this thread. Thanks for all the background info!

I saw Slow on a flight once, along with the rest of the Fly-In finalists. It was cute, in something of a well-done art-student short. The rest had a similar feel, though 'Tis the Season felt more polished, somehow. It was a neat way to support independent film-makers, and an interesting method of distribution.

Links to the other finalist videos: CTRL Z, Tales Of Mere Existence "Conversation", Morning Fall, 'Tis the Season
posted by filthy light thief at 3:12 PM on January 18, 2009

I feel that this message represents a SPOILER and should be marked as such for people who hear about the movie and google it because they want to learn about it but don't want to know what happened.

I've already seen the movie but it wouldn't have had the same impact if I'd have known the whole story beforehand. Thank you :)
posted by limonade at 5:46 PM on January 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

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