Allen Ross

A story like Missing Allen has never been told on film. Most documentary-filmmakers find their subjects in other people´s lives – here the director is not only personally involved, but Christian Bauer also tells the story of an unfolding mystery, the story of the search for a lost friend and colleague, in which the filmmaker becomes the detective.

Missing Allen is a detective story, which leads the viewer into the American Heart of Darkness, to Waco, Texas and Oklahoma City, to UFO-believers and religious cults. The film is investigating the disappearance of Allen Ross, a filmmaker and Cameraman from Chicago who went missing only a few weeks after he had shot a film about the Mississippi River together with director Christian Bauer. Their friendship had started with their first project in 1989, a feature length documentary about Allen´s hometown Chicago. Until Allen´s disappearance in November 1995 they had shot seven films together.

Four and a half years later, when Missing Allen begins, nobody has heard from Allen Ross. There are only a few possible explanations for his disappearance: Has he dropped out of society – but for what reason? Is he hiding out, afraid of the revenge of the religious cult he seems to have been a member of? Or has he been murdered – and why? Step by step the film eliminates one scenario after the other, until we are faced with only one possible explanation: Allen is dead. But where is his body?

As a detective story Missing Allen  comes to a frightening conclusion about Allen´s fate. In the end there is very little question about what happened. There is a killer still at large. But justice may not take its course.

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.? -Scott Foundas, Variety?

“Missing Allen” is quite beautiful: Colors are bright, and there’s a crispness that makes the imagery pop off the screen. That beauty sharply contrasts the tale’s downward spiral, which slowly winds to a bleak and heartbreaking conclusion … It’s finally so affecting because of the true-life ache at its heart: a friend’s overwhelming need to know what happened to the guy he loved like a brother.Ernest Hardy, LA Weekly?



The Grandfather Trilogy (1978-81, 60 mins., 16mm) is a major work of Chicago ?filmmaker (and Chicago Filmmakers co-founder) Allen Ross. Comprised of the ?three short films Papa, Thanksgiving, 1979, and Burials, it is a moving and ?deeply personal portrait of the filmmaker’s grandfather. Featuring Ross’ ?subtle and lyrical camerawork, beautiful black and white and color ?cinematography, and humane and tender treatment of it’s subject, The Grandfather Trilogy is one of the key independent films from Chicago, once ?again available in stunning new prints.

Ross has written: “One of the ways I see the trilogy is as a radical approach to portraiture. Most of Papa was shot without looking through the viewfinder. There were, however, many accidents that happened while the camera was turned on. The film plays for me as a long sustained accident. I am grateful for this photographic record of a divinely shadowed presence. It is a reflection of a kind of space my grandfather generated.”

“The Grandfather Trilogy is a portrait of Allen Ross’s grandfather in Bowling Green, South Carolina. It is described as a ‘profoundly moving work, an attempt to come to terms with death as an event in the living world…The films abound with images which suggest stasis, absence, silence, horizontality, oneness with the earth: a catalog of the conditions of death from the point of view of the living.”– Nosowitz, Millenium Film Journal

Curated by Lorenzo Gattorna.


Comments: 1

View Comments

  1. Hey guys,

    Fred Barney Taylor here. I had a great screening of The Polymath at UnionDocs two years ago this month. I just came across a film that I think you screened, “Missing Allen,” but I couldn’t find the screening date on your website. To make a long story short, Allen was one of my closest and dearest friends. We spent a lot of time together in Chicago in the seventies, screened each other’s films, and generally collaborated on a magical cinematic lifestyle. I was one of the first people to know he had gone missing. I saw this film when it appeared on Frontline several years ago (maybe many years ago) and I’ve been trying to track it down ever since. Can you send me some info? Who curated the screening, when was it shown, how can I get a copy? (Googling suggests it is no longer possible to get a DVD). I gotta have one. Can you help?
    Thanks. Keep up the good work. All best, FBT

    Comment by Fred Barney Taylor on June 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Leave a Reply