Back in 2008, Oscilloscope Labs sent us one of their films, Dear Zachary. It was one of the first screeners I’d ever gotten, and the first I remember actually watching. I sat down and watched it with my wife, and I remember 20 minutes until the film, she was sobbing inconsolably, insisting that I turn it off. I refused, and she sobbed uncontrollably for the next hour.
Up until Newtown this year, Dear Zachary was the hardest film I had ever seen.
We heard from a lot of readers in 2008-2010 who had buckled down to watch it, and it was likewise a traumatic experience for them. It’s an unbearably sad documentary.
It was worth it. It was worth it because that documentary achieved something huge in Canada. That documentary resulted in a change to the law, as was revealed in a 14-minute sequel to the movie.
I don’t want to recount the entire real-life story of Dear Zachary here. The short version is this: A woman accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend was able to get out of jail on bail and kill her 13-month old child in a murder-suicide. The Bagbys — the parents of the man murdered (and grandparents of the child) — have been fighting for years to have the laws changed in Canada so that someone who is accused of first-degree murdered is not allowed out on bail. This is the law in the United States, but the presumption of innocence is so strong in Canada that accused murderers can await their trials at home (it’s one of the few Canadian laws that actually might be too liberal).
The Bagbys attempted to change the law so that bail would not be granted to those accused of murder if they presented a danger to others. They were unsuccessful in getting that passed, but they did manage to get a milder version of it passed, so that capital murderers would be denied bail if they posed a threat to anyone under the age of 18. It’s called the Bagby Bill. And that documentary that destroyed our souls made it happen.
Congratulations to both The Bagbys and Kurt Kuenne, the friend of Andrew Bagby and filmmaker who brought this documentary to life. I am so sorry for your losses, but I hope that it prevents others from additional losses.
via AV Club
(P.S., It’s worth noting that our old friend Daniel Carlson is now a contributor to Oscilloscope’s film blog)