Wed Feb 26, 2020 – 7:30 pm | Domenico’s
Sat Feb 29, 2020 – 5:00 pm | Hendricks Arts Center

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?

Directed by
Zachary Stauffer

Documentary Feature
USA | 80 min | 2018

Lt. Wes Van Dorn, a 29-year-old United States Naval Academy graduate and the married father of two young sons, died when the helicopter he was piloting crashed off the coast of Virginia during a 2014 training exercise.

Motivated by her grief, his wife Nicole sought an explanation for the cause of the disaster. Her efforts spurred an investigation that uncovered a long history of negligence and institutional failings around the 53E helicopter—the model Van Dorn was piloting when he was killed, and the deadliest aircraft in the US military.

Through incisive reporting and interviews with Van Dorn’s colleagues and family, “Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?” is at once a poignant picture of one family’s tragedy, as well as a revelatory inquiry into the murky inner-workings of the American defense establishment.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? - Poster

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? - Zachary StaufferZachary Stauffer

Zachary Stauffer (producer/director/DP) is a documentary filmmaker and journalist based at the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley. “Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?” is his first feature documentary.

From 2009-2015, he was intimately involved with all of the IRP’s work for PBS Frontline, first as an associate producer and later as a producer. Throughout that time, he’s also been the IRP’s primary director of photography. A partial sampling of that work includes “Bigger Than Vegas” (2015, Producer/DP), “Money and March Madness” (2011, Producer/DP), “Murdoch’s Scandal” (2012, Field Producer/DP), “The Child Cases” (2011, Field Producer/DP), “Post Mortem” (2011, AP/DP), the DuPont award-winning “Rape In The Fields” (2013, DP) and its follow ups “Rape On The Night Shift” (2015, DP) and “Trafficked in America” (2018, DP). Stauffer has also served as a DP on a wide array of independent documentary films and projects seen on PBS, Al Jazeera, MSNBC, BBC, National Geographic, Univision, Telemundo, and others. His short documentary, “A Day Late In Oakland” (2008), about the murder of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey, was nominated for two IDA Awards, screened at film festivals across the country, and was broadcast on KQED in San Francisco.

He began his career at Northern Light Productions in Boston. There he served as co-producer of “The Special: A Story of an American Anthem” (2005), which premiered at the Nashville Film Festival and also screened at Silver Docs (now AFI Docs) and other festivals. Stauffer is a graduate of Boston College and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where he is currently a lecturer.

Film Information

Directors: Zachary Stauffer
Country: U.S.A.
Year: 2018
Language: English
Runtime: 80 min.
Rated: PG-13


Producer: Zachary Stauffer
Executive Producers: Lowell Bergman, John Temple
Editor: Eli Olson
Composer: William Ryan Fritch

Connect With This Film

BIFF - Beloit International Film Festival
BIFF | Beloit International Film Festival