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?
Very early during the production Christian Bauer decided to leave his usual position behind the camera and to tell the story in the first person. The filmmaker becomes the detective. The film´s cinematic style reflects the search with a camera constantly in motion, with flowing movements and unusual camera angles, punctuated only now and then by interviews, which usually define the genre. On quite another level Missing Allen is also a tribute to Allen´s work as a filmmaker. In clips from his own films and the work he´s done for others we experience the beauty and intensity of his camera work. Allen is present during the whole film through numerous stills and clips from videos and films taken by friends and colleagues during the last twenty years. Bauer also sets out to reconstruct Allen´s spiritual search, and his yearning for love and understanding, which ultimately led him to become a member of a religious fringe group - a fact not known to Bauer when he was shooting his last film with Allen.
Missing Allen is both a personal story and a study of certain aspects of American society as seen through the eye of a European: the freedom to choose a life of one´s own, and its dark flip-side: the lure of false prophets and the attraction of religious fringe groups which sometimes are not about religion at all. And it deals with a more universal topic: How well do we really know those who are close to us, can we really understand what is going on in those who we seem to know so well?
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.