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A Raymond Zack Documentary in the Works

By Erica Madison

“I hope we can add some dignity even posthumously, because he was robbed of this dignity,” said documentary film director Jaime Longhi during a telephone interview about an upcoming Raymond Zack film.

Although Mr. Zack has been described as a quiet man, his death affected many, including New York local Jaime Longhi.

“It broke my heart, it grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go,” said Longhi.

The working title for the documentary is called “Shallow Waters: The Public Death Of Raymond Zack.”

Longhi’s credits include a documentary about an international AIDS-Awareness movement in Africa entitled Funu-jem, translated means: Where Do We Go.

The death of Raymond Zack took Longhi out of his filmmaking hiatus to come to Alameda City and explore the pain, anger and sadness Alamedans have encountered from a life lost unnecessarily.

Like many Longhi was moved by the event on May 30th, which led to the death of Raymond Zack, so moved he’s been working on a documentary about Raymond Zack and the people who were most affected by his death.

Longhi has interviewed Zack’s foster mother Dolores Berry, who has given approval of the film. With the help of local filmmaker Cassidy Friedman, Longhi has also interviewed the woman who made the 911 call on Memorial Day as well as other witnesses who were at the beach the day Zack drowned.

“We have some extraordinarily honest interviews from people who are wonderfully loving and who are struggling with this Rubik’s cube of inaction. How do twenty to thirty able bodied people allow this to happen?” said Longhi.

Although Longhi has interviewed the president of the local firefighters union, Domenick Weaver, both the fire and police departments have refused to be interviewed for the film.

However, Longhi said the film isn’t about placing blame.

“To the people who froze we are offering them a chance to express their regrets,” said Longhi.

Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore agreed to be interview for the film, but on the day scheduled for filming, with the cameras and microphone both set up, the Mayor walked in with her attorney and told him there was pending litigation which prevented her from participating in the documentary.

“I wish I had the cameras rolling right then,” said Longhi, chuckling.

Local government’s refusal to participate in the documentary is disappointing. Longhi said the goal of the documentary is to provide an opportunity for people to heal and to serve as a reminder to prevent this from ever happening again.

“Some people that refused to be interviewed were angry with me, and I think this may be because they have some unresolved guilt,” said Longhi. “The documentary is not accusatory or sensational; instead it’s a serious psychosocial examination of a tragic event.”

His search for interviews is not over. Longhi is looking for the kite surfer who spoke with Zack and told the incident commander that he said he was “fine.” He would also like to speak with the nurse who pulled Raymond Zack out of the water.

If anyone has pictures or footage of the incident or was there at the scene and would like to participate in this documentary, Longhi asks that they e-mail him at:

Longhi hopes the documentary will get a showing at the Alameda Theater when complete.

1 comment to A Raymond Zack Documentary in the Works

  • DHL

    People are delusional if they think the City of Alameda is interested “to prevent this from ever happening again. The City did nada to protect us from future toxic events despite the extreme failures that polluted us with asbestos and crude oil. In 2009 and 2010, City and her attorneys made sure that the dots could not be connected between the unseen (at this time) diseases that will arise from asbestos or crude oil pollution and that the environment would not be tested in a way that would correlate the pollution to the AFD failures. NOTHING HAS CHANGED: the only thing different this time is that anyone can see the very real harm caused by the City and AFD failures on Memorial Day. We continue to have a Captain with zero command and management experience at the helm of our fire services. Alamedans continue to accept the propaganda that neither the asbestos, the crude oil, nor an unqualified captain acting higher rank as our fire chief puts anyone at risk. WHY?