Big Directors Small Films: Kurt Kuenne’s Validation

Composer turned filmmaker Kurt Kuenne‘s short film Validation is “a fable about the magic of free parking.” Bones star TJ Thyne stars as Hugh Newman. Some of you might recognize Kurt as the director of one of this year’s best films — a heart wrenching documentary called Dear Zachary (if you haven’t seen it, don’t even read anything about it — just rent it — YOU NEED TO SEE IT). I was originally hesitant to include this short as part of /Film’s Big Directors Small Films series, as I’m afraid not enough people know who Kuenne is yet, but I’m sure thats about to change. Dear Zachary is probably one of this year’s best. Kuenne’s short won a bunch of awards at film festivals across the country. Thanks to /Film reader Andreas C for the tip.

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SXSW Movie Review: Dear Zachary

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, a heart-wrenching, thought-provoking documentary edited and directed by Kurt Kuenne explores, in often excruciating detail, the death of his best friend, Andrew Bagby, a twenty-eight year old doctor completing his residency in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. On the morning of November 5, 2001, Bagby’s bullet-riddled body was found in a public park. Suspicion almost immediately turned to Bagby’s ex-girlfriend, Dr. Shirley Turner, a Canadian woman who studied with Bagby at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She moved to the United States to be closer to Bagby. As Turner’s arrest seemed imminent, she fled back to St. John’s, a small city in Newfoundland, Canada.

Kuenne initially set out to document his friend’s life through interviews with friends, family members, medical students from Memorial University, and Bagby’s fellow residents at the hospital in Latrobe. As the Bagby case focused on Turner, Kuenne began to follow it with greater interest. Turner’s extradition back to the United States, however, proved more difficult than expected. Delay followed delay. Turner was released on bail (twice). When Turner announced that she was pregnant with Andrew’s child, his parents, Kate and David, decided to leave their lives in California behind and move to Newfoundland.

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