Killing For Love

Killing For Love

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    • Directed by: Marcus Vetter & Karin Steinberger
    • Released: 2018 (educational)
    • Year of Production: 2016 
Running Time: 120 min
Format: NTSC DVD
Language: English
Accessibility: Includes English closed captions
Subjects:  Criminal Justice, Law, American Studies, International Studies, Sociology, Media Studies
The gruesome murders of Nancy and Derek Haysom in 1985 were an international media sensation...


About the film

Obsessed young lovers, obscene murders, a sensational trial, and a shocking miscarriage of justice. KILLING FOR LOVE is a riveting dissection of the prosecution’s case, the courtroom battle played out on television, and the disturbing aftermath. Convicted of brutally murdering his girlfriend’s parents, serving two life sentences, Jens Soering has been in prison for 32 years.

The film reveals for the first time the mounting evidence of his innocence: the FBI profile of the killer withheld from the jury, the bloody footprint and unidentified fingerprints pointing to other perpetrators, and the new exculpatory DNA analysis. Highly cinematic in the way of The Staircase, as suspenseful as Serial, and as confounding as Making of a Murderer, KILLING FOR LOVE delivers a powerful story that is indeed, stranger than fiction. The gruesome murders of Nancy and Derek Haysom in 1985 were an international 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. This beautifully crafted film reveals a mismanaged judicial process.

This was the first criminal trial of its kind held in front of TV cameras — and was the first such high profile, international case tried in a small town. Photgraphic 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.

Investigations over the past several years have turned up stunning evidence that was previously suppressed or deemed inadmissible. New forensic techniques have disproven evidence that was key to Jens Soering’s original conviction. Soering was previously denied parole 12 times, his 13th hearing took place in October 2017. That hearing was attended by former German president Christian Wulff and German ambassador Peter Wittig who spoke of their belief in Soering’s innocence and commitment to his repatriation. The parole board’s decision has not yet been announced.

Awards & Selected Screenings
  • 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes
  • U.S. Theatrical Release 
  • IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam) 
  • Doc NYC
  • Denver Film Festival
  • Virginia Film Festival
  • DocAviv
Academic Reviews

"This must-see film depicts the complexity of love, treachery, and the justice system in a small Virginia town; highly recommended." - Library Journal

In The Press
"Fans of true crime documentaries—and there are plenty—will be drawn into this fascinating study." — Booklist
"Gruesome, but utterly gripping... masterful documentary" - The Times
"A gripping murder mystery about the fated coupling of a pair of calculating romantics too smart for their own good, and the limits of the American justice system." - The Los Angeles Times
"An important movie that should lead to justice" - Munich Merkur
"A compelling documentary reveals that the story of the 1985 murder of Derek and Nancy Haysom is as perplexing as ever. ...Anyone who has binged on Making a Murderer, Serial or even Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (the original true-crime “non-fiction novel”) will know the cocktail of emotions this increasingly popular and morally dubious genre induces: obsessive fascination, horror, cynicism and loss of faith in the justice system. I, for one, am getting sick of the bitter aftertaste." - The Guardian
"A shocking story of love and betrayal" - taz
"At the end of it all – and watching it and the old trial footage was like being a juror at some kind of retrial – the best conclusion was the pragmatic one reached by the Governor of Virginia Tim Kaine in 2010, which was that Soering had already served a conventionally long sentence and was no danger to the public and could be safely packed off to Germany." - Huffington Post
"Featuring compelling real-life figures who practically invite casting guesses for the inevitable Hollywood dramatization, Killing for Love should easily satisfy viewers..." The Hollywood Reporter
"An extraordinary filmic work" - SWR Kunscht