I believe today, at 1130pm on Friday April 23rd 2010, I finished watching the best documentary film I have ever experienced in my life.
"Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about his Father" by Director Kurt Kuenne is one of the most raw, honest, humanly emotional pieces of visual poetry I have ever felt. And let me stress the word "feel", because this movie allowed me to explore and get in touch with parts of myself I didn't know I had or hadn't felt in a long time.
I don't want to go too much into detailing what this movie is about since the less you know about it going in, the better. Don't ask anybody to tell you what they think about it, don't go into the internet and do research on it or on the people involved with it. Just run to your nearest video store and get this movie. Sit down, press play and get ready to celebrate and revel in the gift of life. Use the 90min of your precious time on this Earth to feel, to truly feel, and discover the amazing power that movies as a visual medium can evoke.
Now, I have a confession to make: I have kinda lost my faith in movies. It seems to me that movies nowadays are visual lobbies for violence, objectification, non-humanity and invitations to detach from our bodies and to what makes us human. We as society crave for more excess, more violence, more sex, more fear and every time we become accomplices to those values by using our hard earned money to support them, a part of us dies in the process. Honestly, take a second to think about the last time you saw a movie that added something of value to your experience of yourself. Think of a movie that has given you a glimpse into how much more and how much better we can become as people. Has any recent film helped you feel admiration and awe for what it means to be alive? For what it means to be human?
For the past year and a half I have been working as an assistant editor in a still unnamed documentary project detailing the current violent streak of violence my country, Mexico, is in and the people that use their time, energy and resources to make a proactive change for the better through non-violence and compassion. Working in this documentary has shown me both the darkest and the brightest aspects of what it means to be a human being. I have never felt, grown or experienced as much as I have ever since I started work in this documentary in September 2008. I know how emotionally draining and rewarding it is to create a work of art that truly has the power to transform the world and can totally try on what Mr. Kuenne must have gone through in order to create his movie. I have nothing but true admiration for this brave man.
The reason I became a filmmaker was to come up with stories that can truly move people to take action and improve the world we live in. I asked you all before if a recent movie had added something of true value to your life. Aside from "How to Train your Dragon" and "Avatar", I struggle to find another recent example that can compare to what I felt tonight while watching "Dear Zachary".
It is now 1:10am and as I deeply connect to myself and feel things out, I have to say that "Dear Zachary" is the closest example I have experienced in my life to a movie that has the power to actually move people to the point of action. I truly believe the world needs more movies like this and I hope I can one day say a movie I have created or participated in accomplishes even a fraction of what this movie can and has. I have been forever changed and improved by this movie.
Dear Mr. Kuenne, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Juan Luis Lopez Fons