At its most conventional, this docu, about the disappearance of Chicago cameraman Allen Ross, plays like an extended “Unsolved Mysteries” reenactment. But as this real-life detective story winds its way from the Chicago suburbs to a Cheyenne, Wyo. landfill, it develops into something more substantial: a deeply personal query into how well we really know the people we think we know best, and a look at how easy it can be to disappear into America. A co-production of French and German television, pic, which has opened on a single L.A.-area screen for Academy qualification, will be broadcast internationally next year.
Helmer Christian Bauer, who had collaborated with Ross on a series of docus, started investigating his colleague’s disappearance after watching the case gestate in the police’s “missing persons” file for over four years. Bauer discovered a lurid underbelly of dissenting fringe groups lurking beneath the picturesque vistas of the American Midwest. Could the mild-mannered, self-effacing Ross have been a member of a religious cult with ties to the Waco Branch Davidians? As answers come forth, pic becomes more and more unnerving.