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“Every morning, when I open my eyes and see the thick bars across my window I cannot help but think back to that evening my downfall began.”

Jens Soering

Protagonists

 Chuck Reid was a member of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Department and one of the investigators in the Haysom murder case. In an interview, he spoke about a FBI crime scene profile that was created for the case in 1985, but which was not turned over to the defense or mentioned in court. The profile described a female suspect and does not fit the confession of Jens Soering. Reid is confident that there was such a crime scene profile. But Ricky Gardner claims it never existed.

 Ricky Gardner describes himself as a “lead investigator” in the Haysom murder case. He was there when Jens Soering confessed to the murders in London without a lawyer. To this day, Gardner defends the comparison made in court of Soering’s sock imprint found at the crime scene even though experts later said that this comparison was wrong and misled the jury.

Rich Zorn (right), former Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General and a friend of the Soering family. His son went to the same school as Jens Soering. He supported the family for many years and is committed to the cause of Soering’s transfer to Germany.

Gail Marshall, former Deputy Attorney General of Virginia, has been fighting for Jens Soering for many years. She is certain of his innocence and says she only had two cases in her entire career where she was firmly convinced that the prisoners were innocent. One is now a free man, the other is Jens Soering.

Tom Elliott, a Catholic deacon and chaplain, who accompanied Soering for many years. He is one of the few that visits him regularly in prison. He is just in the process, together with other supporters, to push once again for Soering’s transfer to Germany.

Dave Watson, a private investigator who was hired by Gail Ball to reinvestigate the case.

Steven D. Rosenfield, Jens Soering’s new repatriation attorney, filed suit on January 18, 2011, to enforce his transfer to Germany. On January 12, 2010, the Democratic Governor of Virginia, Timothy M. Kaine, consented to the repatriation of Jens Soering to Germany. A week later, the new Republican Governor, Robert F. McDonnell, sent a letter withdrawing Virginia’s consent to Jens Soering’s repatriation. In July 2012, a court ruled against his repatriation lawsuit; in December 2012, the Virginia Supreme Court refused to even hear the appeal.

William Sweeney, the judge who led the Haysom trials. He swore that he was unbiased, even though he had given an interview before the trial in which he said he thought Jens Soering was guilty. In addition, he was a friend of the brother of one of the victims for over 40 years.

Tony Buchanan, a new witness, who came forward in 2011 to say that, in 1985, Elizabeth Haysom brought a damaged car to his garage, accompanied by another man – not Jens Soering. In the car lay a bloody knife. The witness was never officially questioned.

Ed Sulzbach was a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a highly respected FBI-profiler. He was the recipient of the FBI’s Medal of Valor and FBI Star, two of the Bureau’s highest honors. He investigated the crime scene at Loose Chippings and wrote a psychological profile, in which he concluded that the perpetrator very possibly was female and someone close to the family. Sulzbach’s presence at the crime scene was never mentioned in court. Jens Soering’s lawyers were not aware of the existence of a profile, which would have been exculpatory evidence. According to the Bedford County Sheriff’s Department, the profile never existed, and several FOIA requests for the profile remain unanswered. He died on April 13, 2016 at the age of 75.

Carlos Santos, a journalist, who followed the case from the beginning.

Director‘s Statement

By Karin Steinberger and Marcus Vetter

The first time Karin Steinberger met Jens Soering in person, he had already been a prisoner for 20 years. He had spent more time incarcerated than walking free. That was in August 2006. He was talking about his great love for Elizabeth Haysom, about lies and betrayal. It was a flood of words; he spoke as if his life depended on it. And repeatedly this one phrase: I am innocent.

That was 10 years ago. Since then he wrote her nearly every day, his letters are full of rage, and sometimes of hope. And there are news with every visit: There was a parole-hearing, during which the chairman fell asleep, in front of everyone present. Like all pervious parole applications, this one was also denied. Then there was this new witness, who exonerated Soering, but no official had any interest in him. There was DNA evidence from the crime scene, but none matched that of Jens Soering. A moment of hope came when Tim Kaine, the democratic governor of Virginia, declared Jens Soering’s transfer to Germany. And it was destroyed when his republican successor, Bob McDonnell stopped the transfer on his first day in office. Jens Soering stayed prisoner number 1161655, given two life sentences for the murder on Nancy and Derek Haysom, who were stabbed to death in their home in Lynchburg, Virginia, on March 30th, 1985. The question that still lingers: Is Jens Soering guilty beyond reasonable doubt?

Three years ago Karin Steinberger asked Marcus Vetter if he would like to make a movie about this case. All those inconsistencies, procedural errors, and unanswered questions. The story seemed far from finished. At this moment Jens Soering was in prison for 27 years.

Karin and Marcus have worked together previously, on two documentaries: “Hunger“ (2009) and “The Forecaster“ (2015). And now they looked at the Haysom-killing, a story that seemed written in Hollywood. Two brilliant students meet each other at the University of Virginia, she was beautiful and bold, he was very intelligent and arrogant. They fall in love, become a couple, and then Elizabeth’s parents get killed.

At first the police have no traces, but they get closer and closer to the couple. So Elizabeth and Jens flee to Asia, Europe, and finally get caught in London for cashing bad cheques. They both confess the murder during interrogations, then revoke. Soering says, he confessed to safe her from the electric chair. Haysom says: He did it.  The great love turned into a deadly betrayal.

The interview with Jens Soering by Steinberger and Vetter in the Buckingham Correctional Center is the last he is allowed to give in front of a camera. Since then: No more filming. By accident Steinberger and Vetter get the complete video footage of the processes. The gruesome double murder was a public sensation back then in the US, to be seen every day live on TV. The footage is another sensation, you can see everything: How Elizabeth Haysom wraps herself up in lies, how Jens Soering’s lawyer fails because of the special procedural rules in the state of Virgina, how Jens Soering’s with his juvenile arrogance turns everyone against him, how facts get twisted and how crucial questions never get asked.

The movie shooting has its own impact: Steinberger and Vetter get to know the FBI-agent, who had made a perpetrator profile; however its existence has been denied by officials to this very day. Together with a private investigator Steinberger and Vetter search for witnesses who, without any stated reason, have never been asked to give testimony in court. They learn that the abuse of Elizabeth Haysom by her mother is still a taboo. Nude pictures of Elizabeth taken by Nancy Haysom are to this day under seal and cannot to be found.

Jens Soering was in prison for 30 years, one month and 24 days when the movie had its world premiere on June 24th, 2016 at the Filmfest in Munich. The movie’s effects are already noticeable. What remains is one crucial question: Is Jens Soering guilty, beyond reasonable doubt?

Munich, August 8th, 2016

Behind the Scenes

A look behind the scenes during the shooting of the film

Festivals

Festivals 2017

22. Filmfest TurkeyGermanyMarch 4, 9.00 pmmore
March 6, 9.15 pm
RiverRun IFFUSAMarch 31, 12.30 pm *more
April 1, 7.00 pm *
DOC avivIsraelMay 12, 6.00 pm *more
May 14, 6.00 pm *
DOCS against GRAVITYPolandMay 12-26 ***more
DOC EDGENew ZealandMay 18, 8.00 pm *more
May 20, 1.45 pm *
May 27, 8.30 pm *
May 28, 8.45 pm *
DOCS BarcelonaSpainMay 20, 10.00 pm *more
May 25, 07.30 pm *
57 KFF Krakow Film FestivalPolandMay 28 – June 4 ***more
DocumentaristTurkeyJune 17-26more
Durban IFFSouthafrikaJuly 13-23more
Kota Kinabalu IFFMalaysiaJuly 22-29more


* With Q & A
with director Marcus Vetter and/or co-director Karin Steinberger
*** Screening dates will be announced soon
More international festivals screenings will be announced soon.

“The Promise” wins the “Öngören Award” for Democracy and Human Rights at the 22nd Filmfest Turkey in Nuremberg

On Saturday March, 11 2017, the documentary feature film “The Promise”, by filmmaker Marcus Vetter and  journalist Karin Steinberger, was awarded the “Öngören Award for Democracy and Human Rights” at the 22nd Filmfest Turkey Germany in Nuremberg .

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Internatinal Festival Tour 2016

On November 5th the documentary “The Promise” had its US-premiere on the Virignia Film Festival. This is a very special location, because in Charlottesville 1984 Elizabeth Haysom and Jens Soering met the first time, right here, at the University of Virginia, where the movie will be shown as the festival’s centerpiece. Screenings at the 39th Denver Film Festival and at DOC NYC have followed. Additionally, “The Promise” was chosen for the Masters Program at the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA). The IDFA Masters Program presented a selection of new movies from “renowned documentary directors”.

Filmfest Munich*GermanyJun 23 – Jul 2more
DMZ DOCS*South KoreaSep 22 – 29more
Reykjavik IFFIslandSep 28 – Oct 10more
DOCSDF*MexicoOct 13 – 22more
Virginia Film Festival*USANov 3 – 6more
Denver Film Festival*USANov 8 – 11more
DOC NYC*USANov 13more
IDFA Amsterdam*NeatherlandsNov 16 – 27more
DOCS Barcelona
Valparadiso
Chile25 – 30 Novmore

* With Q&A with filmmaker Karin Steinberger and/or Director Marcus Vetter

Screening Saturday, Nov 5, 2016 – 7:30 PM

Downtown Mall : The Paramount Theater – Discussion with director Karin Steinberger and subjects Gail Marshall, Chuck Reid, and Steve Rosenfield, moderated by Sandy Hausman (NPR).

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Centerpiece Film at the 29th Virginia Film Festival

The Virginia Film Festival is proud to present the North American Premiere of The Promise, a gripping documentary about one of Virginia’s most notorious crimes and the many questions that still surround the case 30 years later. Echoing the hit Netfilx series Making a Murderer and the NPR sensation Serial, The Promise looks back at the gruesome 1985 double murder of Nancy and Derek Haysom in bucolic Bedford County, Virginia, and the man who continues to proclaim his innocence after three decades of incarceration. German national Jens Soering and his girlfriend Elizabeth Haysom, both honor students at the University of Virginia, were convicted of the crimes in 1990 and German filmmakers Karin Steinberger and Marcus Vetter present a fascinating look back at a complicated and troubling true crime story that has returned to the headlines in the last month, thanks to a defense team claim of newly-discovered DNA evidence that could impact the case.

Sold out Premiere & Speach of Jens Soering

On Saturday, November 5, “The Promise” celebrated its US premiere with 1040 seats sold out premiere at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville. After the film Jens Soering spoke in a radio interview to the enthusiastic and touched audience and apologized publicly to the University of Virginia – a very moving and emotional moment. Afterwards, a panel discussion took place with director Karin Steinberger and the protagonist Steven Rosenfield, Gail Marshall and Chuck Reid. The event was moderated by the reporter Sandy Hausman.

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Special Screening by VPRO

VPRO offers a special “Extra Screening” at IDFA, a special Q&A where the creators give an insight into the production of the film and share some outtakes. The discussion is moderated by Nick Fraser.

Friday, November 18. 2016, 3 pm at EYE Cinema 1

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IDFA – International Documentary Festival Amsterdam

The Promise was selected for the Master Program at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam. The IDFA Masters section presents a selection of the latest films from “prestigious documentary films”.

Wednesday, November 16. – 8.15 pm | Tuschinski 3*
Friday, November 18. – 3 pm | EYE Cinema 1*
Saturday, November 19. – 9.30 pm | Brakke Grund Expozaal*
Thursday, November
24. – 3.15 pm | Mut 09
Friday, November
25. – 1:45 pm | Tuschinski 2

The directors Marcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger together with the producers Louise Rosen and Ulf Meyer present the film with Q&A after the screening.

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SCREENINGS – THE PROMISE (131 Min.)

Friday06/24/201605.00 pmARRI KINO
Sunday06/26/201611.30 amARRI KINO
Thursday06/30/201607.30 pmCity 3
Friday07/01/201610.00 amGloria Palast
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Opening film “New German Cinema”

Love, Hate, Betrayal: This year’s line up of films from New German Cinema run the gamut between affection and violence. They encompass everything from a love story, to a true crime documentary, a pitch black comedy and a road movie and include works from young directors as well as new works from well known names.

“Filmfest München is one of the most important platforms for innovative German films”, says festival director Diana IIjine. It shows the best that German cinema has to offer. Sixteen films and three documentaries will have their world premier as part of the line up of the section New German Cinema.

The Documentary “The Promise” shows just how close love and crime are sometimes intertwined. It tells the story of the brutal double murder of husband and wife Nancy and Derek Haysom in 1985. Convicted of the crime was Jens Soering, the German boyfriend of the couple’s daughter Elisabeth. Imogen Poots and Daniel Brühl narrate.

Karin Steinberger, Marcus Vetter and their team spent over three years researching this case, which achieved world-wide notoriety. They uncovered new evidence, including a profile og the FBI which has been never presented in court. A controversial doc about a great love and perhaps a great injustice, and an American legal system spun out of control.

River Run IFF

Co-Director Karin Steinberger presents “The Promise” with extended Q&A.

Friday, March 31. 2017 – 12.30 pm
Saturday, April 1
. 2017 – 07.00 pm

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DOC NYC

Co-Director Karin Steinberger and producer Louise Rosen present “The Promise” with Q&A at IFC Center.

Saturday, Nov  13. 2016 – 8.45 pm

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39. Denver Film Festival

Co-Director Karin Steinberger presents “The Promise” with extended Q&A at the UA Pavillion.

Tuesday, Nov 8. 2016 – 6 pm
Wednesday, Nov
9. 2016 – 3.45 pm
Friday, Nov 
11. 2016 – 1.45 pm

More Information

A Production of Filmperspektive

in Co-Production with Eikon, TV Plus, SWR, Arte and NDR

Filmperspektive GmbH

Our goal is to create a platform for the independent production of documentaries and fiction films. We are interested in using our unique backgrounds and styles to create feature length films that are high quality and tell stories that people throughout the world can relate to. We strive to do this by focusing on creating material that is  powerful, edgy, provocative, contemporary and must be seen because of its political or social relevance. Our vision is to create a network of filmmakers and commissioning editors around the globe who believe, like we do, that films do make a difference. Our aim is to create a student filmmaking program for young people who would otherwise not have a chance to be educated in this field.

For more information please contact: info(at)filmperspektive.de
Editorial: Karin Steinberger
karin.steinberger(at)sueddeutsche.de | +49 (0)89.21 83 86 17
World Sales: Louise Rosen
louise(at)louiserosenltd.com | +1 617.899 66 29
Sales Germany: Farbfilm Berlin
info(at)farbfilm-verleih.de |  +49 (0)30.29 77 29 44

A production ofFilmperspektive
Original titleThe Promise
A film byMarcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger
In co-production withSWR, ARTE, BR, DR, BBC, SVT, VPRO
Directed and edited byMarcus Vetter
Co-DirectorKarin Steinberger
Year of Production2016
ProducersMarcus Vetter
Louise Rosen
Ulf Meyer
Consulting ProducerPeter Broderick
Director of PhotographyGeorg Zengerling
Co-EditorsMichele Gentile
Patrick Wilfert
Bonus materialsAndrea Stettmer
Christoph von Stieglitz
Original MusicJens Huerkamp
SoundAljoscha Haupt
Sound DesignMarkus Limberger
Sound MixJonathan Schorr
Line ProducerAnnette Burchard
Color CorrectionFabiana Cardalda
Legal AdvisorAlbert Kitzler
Commissioning EditorsGudrun Hanke el Ghomri, SWR
Catherine Le Goff, ARTE
Petra Felber, BR
Mette Hoffmann Meyer, DR
Nick Fraser, BBC
Kate Townsend, BBC
Axel Arnö, SVT
Nathalie Windhorst, VPRO
Founded byMFG and DFFF
Distributor, GermanyFarbfilm, Berlin
World SalesLouise Rosen Ltd.
North American Distribution RepresentativesLouise Rosen/Louise Rosen Ltd.
Peter Broderick/Paradigm Consulting

BRD 2016 / Shooting: April 2014 – June 2015
Format: HD/35mm  / Shooting Format: HD
Sound Format: Dolby Digital/ 1:1.85

A film by
Marcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger
with the voices of
Imogen Poots and Daniel Brühl
Directed and Edited by
Marcus Vetter
Co-Director
Karin Steinberger
Director of Photography
Georg Zengerling
Additional Camera
Michele Gentile
Co-edited by
Michele Gentile
Patrick Wilfert
Bonus videos
Andrea Stettmer
Christoph von Stieglitz
Location Sound
Aljoscha Haupt
Re-Recording Mixer
Jonathan Schorr
Sound Design
Markus Limberger
Original Music
Jens Ole Huerkamp
Color Grading
Fabiana Carldalda
Assistant Editor
Leon Füngers
Script Consultant
Jörg Widmer
Legal Advisor
Albert Kitzler
Line Producers
Annette Burchard
Producer
Marcus Vetter
Louise Rosen
Ulf Meyer
Consulting Producer
Peter Broderick
With
(in Order of Appearance)
Jens Soering
Chuck Reid
Ricky Gardner
Susanne Peniche
John Peniche
Carlos Santos
Rich Zorn
Gail Marshall
Tom Elliott
Dave Watson
Gail Ball
Steven Rosenfield
Judge William Sweeney
Mada Sweeney
Tony Buchanan
Ed Sulzbach
Knut Abraham
Dialogue Editing
Aljoscha Haupt
Eric Gühring
Foley Artist
Peter Deiniger
Julia Müller-Scherz
Foley Studio
Cine Impuls
Art Director
Michele Gentile
Animators
Leon Füngers
Sascha Schmidt
Post Production Supervisor
Georg Zengerling
Additional Legal Advisors
F. Robert Stein, Pryor Cashman LLP
W. Wilder Knight II, Pryor Cashman LLP
English Translators
Dr. Jo Van Vliet
Sarah Jobalia
French Subtitles
Jeanne Baliteau
Spanish Subtitles & Translations
Dora Melcher
Camera Engineers
Georg Zengerling
Achim Johne
HD Post Production
Bewegte Bilder
Sound Mix
Bewegte Bilder
Post Production Studio
Bukera Pictures
DCP Mastering
Bewegte Bilder
Title and Credit Design
Michele Gentile
Leon Füngers
Graphic- & Webdesign
Second Screen Concept
Ulf Meyer
addictivefilm
Cross Media
Pjotr Strokov
Illustration & Posterdesign
Jean-Pierre Kunkel
Gordian Breede
Ulf Meyer
Executive in Charge of Production
Hans-Jürgen Bubser
Associate Producer
StreamWerx
Jörg Widmer
Bookkeeping Filmperspektive
Dietmar Neubrand
Interns
Bianca Schillinger
Julian Schöner
Sarah Jobalia
Johanne Ebel
Niels Bauder
Felix Reiter
Vera Paulmann
Samuel Gentile
Hannah Doll
Andrea Stettmer
Christioph von Stieglitz
Researcher
Elizabeth Klinck
Transcription Services
Julian Schöner
Sarah Jobalia
Niels Bauder
Ulf Meyer
Stringers USA
Decker Campbell
Ann Woodroof Williams
E&O Insurance
HISCOX Ltd
Caninenburg&Schouten GmbH
Set Photos
Georg Zengerling
Aereial Footage
Decker Campbell
Ann Williams
Archival Footage
WSET-TV
Private Archive Judge Sweeny
CNN
BBC
With Thanks to
Florian Alcantara
Martin Armstrong
Beth Avang
Celine Babic
Francisco Barata
Brigitte Baur
Timo Baur
Carl von Bergengruen
Anna Boeckh
Nira Bozkurt
Angela Brück
Tom Burchard
Dawn Cleaver
Franco De Luca
Dedina Dettmers
Leo Ellis
Leonore Fisch
Daniel Fritz
Esther Frohnmeyer
Gesine Füngers
Robert Gehring
Alexandre Geisselmann
Nicola Gentile
Christiane Gentile
Davide Gentile
Samuel Gentile
Chris McGinty
Klaus Graf
Katharina Graf
Monika Gossmann
Christoph Gröner
Anne Götz
Hans-Juügen Guth
Juliane Hahn
Gunnar Hartsieker
Christian Hasemann
Samira Higham
Marc Jacob
Jaqueline Janosi
Hannes Jo Rühle
Pierre Johne
Denise Kalipciyan
Dr. Bernd Kaut
Margit Ketterle
Christoph Klotz
Stephan Klotz
Sabrina Klumpp
Sina Knoll
Jan Knollman
Norman Koch
Dieter Krauss
Jasmin Krist
Alexandra Kuhn
Barbara Kuhls
David Kussel
France Saint Léger
Richard Lessau
Mette Lubczyk
David Marco
Dr. Frank Meerkamp
Dora Melcher
Nicky Merl
Frauke Meyer
Ralph Nitz
Beate Nonhoff
Florence Olara
Susanne Patzner
Karlinha Pöhläinen
Lia Polotzek
Laura Preu
Andres Preuss
Grigori Prokhorov
Andre Reifenrath
Benjamin Rothenbacher
Kerstin Rupp
Katharine Rydlink
Lisa Schallenmüller
Jennifer Schense
Frederik Schmidt
Gunnar Schmidt
Carsten Schuffert
Andreas Sievert
Butsarakorn Sorngwong
Holger Spannbauer
Sandor Söth
Slatko Stürmer
Milan Stürmer
Francesca Tummarello
Jana Tolle
Sandra Vach
Daniel Van Eendenburg
Solidea Valenti
Nina Wagner
Gisela Wendel
Charlotte Widmer
Arne Wittig
Raul Nino Zambrano
Benno Zengerling
Dorothea Zengerling
Special Thanks to
Bernadette Faber
Dr. Christoph Hauser
Kai Henkel
Petra Hermanns
Terrence Malick
Margaret MM. Menegoz
Sibel Kekilli
Christoph Strässer
Jörg Widmer
Martina Zöllner
Commissioning Editors
Gudrun Hanke El Ghomri, SWR
Catherine le Goff, ARTE
Petra Felber, BR
Mette Hoffmann Meyer, DR
Nick Fraser, BBC
Kate Townsend, BBC
Axel Arnö, SVT
Nathalie Windhorst, VPRO
North American distribution represented by
Louise Rosen/Louise Rosen Ltd.
Peter Broderick/Paradigm Consulting
A Production of

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© Filmperspektive 2016