„Fascinating and shocking“

Nuernberger News

“A true crime story, meticulous and thrilling“

Hamburg Morning Post

“A thrilling courtroom drama“


coming soon in 2017

The story of Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom

A film by Marcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger

"I felt like the hero in Charles Dickens' novel "A Tale of Two Cities",
who gave his life for love."
Jens Soering


A true Story

First love life sentence

The gruesome murders of Nancy and Derek Haysom in 1985 were a media sensation. The Haysoms were wealthy, respected members of Virginia society, and the murder conviction of their daughter Elizabeth and her German boyfriend Jens Soering sent shock waves through the rural community of Bedford County. Elizabeth and Jens had met in a university program for high achieving students. She was a product of European boarding schools, he was the son of a diplomat. After being arrested in London, England, for passing bad checks in 1986, they were both extradited to the United States and have now spent over 30 years behind bars. This beautifully crafted film reveals a mismanaged, or perhaps completely corrupted, judicial process. This was the first criminal trial held in front of TV cameras — the first high profile, international case tried in a small town.

“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

Bonus videos

Bonus videos

The love letters of Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom

With the voices of Imogen Poots and Daniel Bruehl

Perhaps their lives would have turned out differently if Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom had not kept their love letters. When they were arrested in London on April 30, 1986, it was the collection of love letters that aroused suspicion with the police. In these letters Jens and Elizabeth frequently fantasized about the death or transformation of Elizabeth’s parents, prompting the investigators make inquiries with Virginia law enforcement. In those pre-Internet times, in which cooperation and communication between jurisdictions, let alone in different countries, was uncommon, except for the letters, Jens and Elizabeth might have gotten away with just the cheque fraud they were arrested for. In our bonus material, you can find exclusive excerpts from these letters – read by Daniel Bruehl and Imogen Poots. They illustrate how obsessive and tempestuous this love was.


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.

“When my love swears that she is made of truth, I do believe her, though I know she lies, That she might think me some untutored youth, unlearned in the world’s false subtleties.”
Sonnet 138, Shakespeare


Latest press reviews

“A thrilling courtroom drama“


“Real drama in Shakespearean dimensions“

Saxon Newspaper

“An important movie that should lead to justice“

Munich Merkur

“An extraordinary filmic work“

SWR Kunscht

“Absolutely worth seeing "

Stuttgart Newspaper

“Impressive murder-documentary“


“Realistic, informative and clarifying“


“A film like a grenade"

Stern TV

“An exciting movie which shocks with its human tragedy“

tip Berlin

“The Promise“ tells a shocking story of love and betrayal“


News archive

Exclusive newspaper articles and news videos from 1985 to today

The double murder of Nancy and Derek Haysom in 1985 was a media spectacle. The Haysoms were well-respected community members in their hometown, Lynchburg, Virginia, then they were brutally murdered, almost executed, in their home. The court trials, in which their daughter Elizabeth Haysom and her German boyfriend Jens Soering were tried for the murders, were broadcasted live on US television - something unheard of previous to the case. You can study and follow the developments in the case over thirty years through our exclusive and extensive archive which contains newspaper articles and TV materials. The archive is unique in that it holds the most complete collection of American and German articles and TV materials from 1985 until today. The material was made available by the Virginia Press Service News Clipping Bureau, by different newspapers, journalists and the WSET 13 Daily News Channel.

The Promise coming Soon in 2016

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International Festival Tour

Internatinal Festival Tour

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 Korea  Sep 22 – 29more
Reykjavik IFFIslandSep 28 – Oct 10  more
DOCSDF**MexicoOct 13 – 22more
Virginia Film Festival*  USANov 3 – 6more
Denver Film Festival*USANov 8 – 11more
DOC NYC*USANov 13more
IDFA Amsterdam***Neatherlands Nov 16 – 27more
DOCS Barcelona
Chile25 - 30 Novmore

More international festivals screenings will be announced soon.

* With Q&A with filmmaker Karin Steinberger.
** With Q&A with filmmaker Marcus Vetter
*** With Q&A with filmmakers Marcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger

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.

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).




05:00 pmARRI KINO



11:30 am   ARRI KINO


06/30/201607:30 pm City 3



10:00 am Gloria Palast

Opening film for the section "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.

Behind the scenes

A look behind the scenes during the shooting of the film


Filming Jens Soering's lawyer Gail Ball and private investigator Dave Watson in the evidence room in Bedford.


Marcus Vetter (director) and Georg Zengerling (camera) at a shooting in Bedford.


Aljoscha Haupt (sound) and Georg Zengerling (camera) shooting film material in front of the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Troy, Virginia, in which Elizabeth Haysom is detained.


Marcus Vetter (director), Georg Zengerling (camera) and Aljoscha Haupt (sound) shooting film material in Lynchburg, Virginia.


Georg Zengerling (camera) and Aljoscha Haupt (sound) in Bedford, Virginia.


Ricky Gardner in his office in Bedford.


Private investigator Dave Watson with Aljoscha Haupt (sound) and Georg Zengerling (camera) in Cape Charles.


Aljoscha Haupt (sound) and Georg Zengerling (camera) after filming.


Filming with Chuck Reid in Bedford.


Marcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger at a shooting with Chuck Reid in Bedford.


John and Suzanne Peniche in Lynchburg in front of their home in which Elizabeth Haysom's parents were murdered in 1985.


Aljoscha Haupt (sound) at a filming in Bedford.


The film crew and Jens Soering's lawyer Gail Ball in Virginia.


Private investigator Dave Watson in Washington DC.


Mike Gentile (second camera) and Georg Zengerling (camera) in New York City.


A production of Filmperspektive and Bukera Pictures

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 of Filmperspektive
A film by Marcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger
In co-production with SWR, ARTE, BR, DR, BBC, SVT, VPRO
Directed and edited by Marcus Vetter
Co-Director Karin Steinberger
Year of Production 2016
Producers Marcus Vetter
Louise Rosen
Ulf Meyer
Director of Photography Georg Zengerling
Co-Editors Michele Gentile
Patrick Wilfert
Bonus materials Andrea Stettmer
Christoph von Stieglitz
Original Music Jens Huerkamp
Sound Aljoscha Haupt
Sound Design Markus Limberger
Sound Mix Jonathan Schorr
Line Producer Annette Burchard
Color Correction Fabiana Cardalda
Legal Advisor    Albert Kitzler
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
Founded by MFG and DFFF
Distributor, Germany    Farbfilm, Berlin
World Sales Louise Rosen Ltd.

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

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

Marcus Vetter
Louise Rosen
Ulf Meyer

(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

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

Cross Media
Pjotr Strokov

Illustration & Posterdesign
Jean-Pierre Kunkel
Gordian Breede
Ulf Meyer

Executive in Charge of Production
Hans-Jürgen Bubser
Associate Producer
Jörg Widmer

Bookkeeping Filmperspektive
Dietmar Neubrand

Bianca Schillinger
Julian Schöner
Sarah Jobalia
Johanne Ebel
Niels Bauder
Felix Reiter
Vera Paulmann
Samuel Gentile
Hannah Doll
Andrea Stettmer
Christioph von Stieglitz

Elizabeth Klinck

Transcription Services
Julian Schöner
Sarah Jobalia
Niels Bauder
Ulf Meyer
Stringers USA
Decker Campbell
Ann Woodroof Williams

E&O Insurance
Caninenburg&Schouten GmbH

Set Photos
Georg Zengerling

Aereial Footage
Decker Campbell
Ann Williams

Archival Footage
Private Archive Judge Sweeny

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

A Production of


In Co-Production with

Funded by

Distibution Germany


© Filmperspektive 2016

Further Projects

Productions of Filmperspektive & Bukera Pictures


Filmperspektive GmbH  | Marcus Vetter 

Sickstrasse 36 | 70190 Stuttgart | Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 7071 36 79 06
Commercial Register number: HRB 23950 | District Court Stuttgart


Editorial: karin.steinberger(at)sueddeutsche.de | Tel. +49 (0)89.21 83 86 17
Worldsales: louise(at)louiserosenltd.com | Tel. +1 617.899 66 29
Sales Germany: info(at)farbfilm-verleih.de | Tel. +49 (0)30.29 77 29 44


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