First love, live 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 — was the first high profile, international case tried in a small town.

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A true Story

Investigations over the past 2 years have turned up stunning evidence that was previously suppressed or deemed inadmissible. New forensic techniques have disproven evidence that was key to Soering’s original conviction. Denied parole 11 times, his next hearing in 2016 may have a different outcome, at the same time the film is in release. Unidentified fingerprints, photographic evidence that points to sexual abuse, the presiding judge’s friendship with the victims, a missing FBI profile, a bloody car with a knife under the seat — all point to a very different story, one that is revealed in the film.

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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 MunichGermanyJun 23 – Jul 2more
DMZ DOCSSouth Korea  Sep 22 – 29more
Reykjavik IFFIslandSep 28 – Oct 10  more
DOCSDFMexicoOct 13 – 22more
Virginia Film Festival  USANov 3 – 6more
Denver Film FestivalUSANov 8 – 11more
DOCS NYUSANov 13more
IDFA AmsterdamNeatherlands Nov 16 – 27more
DOCS Barcelona
Chile25 – 30 Novmore

More international festivals screenings will be announced soon.

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.

More Information

Investigator wants Governor to re-investigate Jens Soering murder case
nbc12 Oct 12, 2016 (Video)

Criminal Investigator says Soering is innocent

WVTF Radio Oct 12, 2016 (Radio)

Virginia Film fest announces lineup

C-Ville Sep 29, 2016

Centerpiece Film & North American premiere

Daily Progress, Sep 29, 2016

North American Premiere of The Promise

Press release Virginia Film festival, Sep 29, 2016

Haysom: Soering killed her parents because mom sexually abused her

The Daily Progress, September 10, 2016

Interview with Steven Rosenfield
ABC16 August 28, 2016

Femme fatale: Literary allusions in the Haysom homicides
C-Ville August 31, 2016

McAuliffe responds convicted killer´s request for pardon
WSLS10, August 26, 2016

Haysom murders investigator shares doubt about guilt of Jens Soering
WDBJ7 August 25, 2016



Jens Soering Petitions Gov. McAuliffe for Pardon Based on New Evidence
NBC29, August 25, 2016 (Video)
Soering cites new DNA evidence in petition for pardon
CBS19 Newsplex, August 25, 2016 (Video)
Soering petitioning Virginia governor for pardon

WDBJ7, August 25, 2016 (Video)

Convicted killer's attorney files petition asking for absolute pardon
WSET13, August 25, 2016 (Video)
Additional evidence driving force behind Jens Soering´s pardon request
WVTF Radio Station, August 25, 2016 by Sandy Hausman (Radio)

Jens Söring claims his innonence after new blood analysis
WVTF Radio Station, August 25, 2016 by Sandy Hausman (Radio)

German diplomat’s son petitioning Va. governor for pardon
The Washington Times, August 25, 2016

All press reviews

Soering's attorney presents evidence to dispute guilt in double murder
The Daily Progress, August 24, 2016
Jens Soering, petitioning Va. governor for pardon
Richmond-Times-Dispatch, Aug 24, 2016
A Bedford County murder case, more than 30 years old, is back in the spotlight

WSLS10, August 24, 2016 (Video)

Absolute pardon: Soering petitions another governor
C-Ville, August 24, 2016

Jens Soering says new blood analysis proves his innocence in 31-year-old case
Washington Post, August 24, 2016

Documentary film The Promise selected at 34. Munich Film Festival

Press release Filmperspektive, June 8, 2016
Love, Hate, Betrayal
Press release Filmfest Munich, June 1, 2016

“Soering documentary to premiere at Munich Film Festival”
CVILLE, May 11, 2016 by Lisa Provence

"The Promise: Why Did Soering Confess"
WVTF Radio, April 25, 2016 by Sandy Hasuman

Part 1    Part 2     Part 3

In Coproduction with SWR, ARTE, BR, DR, BBC, SVT, VPRO

A production of Filmperspektive
A film by Marcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger
In coproduction with SWR, ARTE, BR, DR, BBC, SVT, VPRO
Directed adn edited by Marcus Vetter
Co-Director Karin Steinberger

Year of production

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
Sound Aljoscha Haupt
Mix Jonathan Schorr
Sounddesign Markus Limberger
Music Jens Huerkamp

Supported by MFG and DFFF

Colorcorrection Fabiana Cardalda
Line Producer Annette Burchard
Legal Advisor Albert Kitzler
Commissioning Editors Gudrun Hanke el Ghomri, SWR
Chatherine le Goff, ARTE
Petra Felber, BR
Mette Hoffmann Meyer, DR
Nick Fraser, BBC
Kate Townsend, BBC
Axel Arnö, SVT
Nathalie Windhorst, VPRO
Supported by MFG und DFFF
Distributor Germany Farbfilm, Berlin
World Sales Louise Rosen Ltd.

Germany 2016  / Shooting: April 2014 – June 2015 Format: HD/35mm 
Shootingformat: HD / Soundformat: Dolby Digital / 1:1.85