Film on the disappearance of Des Moines’s Johnny Gosch comes to FilmScene

Who Took Johnny

FilmScene — April 27 at 6:30 p.m., May 2 at 2 p.m.

Tonight, FilmScene screens Who Took Johnny, a chilling chronicle of one of the most famous unsolved cases in American history: the September 5, 1982 abduction of 12-year-old newspaper carrier Johnny Gosch of West Des Moines, Iowa.

Gosch was last seen delivering copies of The Des Moines Register two blocks away from his house in the early morning hours. Five eyewitnesses have said he was forced into a blue car that immediately left the area. The only traces of him were Johnny’s red wagon filled with undelivered papers and his dog, a dachshund named Gretchen. Over thirty years later, his whereabouts are still unknown.

Gosch’s story became a cautionary tale for parents and children alike. Noreen Gosch, mother of Johnny Gosch, campaigned for what was to become the “Johnny Gosch Bill,” a law requiring Iowa police to respond immediately to reports of missing children. It was signed into law by then Governor Terry Branstad in 1984 and was influential in shaping police practices across the nation.

The film was produced by the Brooklyn-based production studio Rumur Inc. An early version of the film aired on MSNBC in 2013 to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of Johnny’s disappearance. The filmmakers have re-edited the project to incorporate footage and information that tells an even darker, stranger story than what cable audiences were exposed to.

For the last year, the film has been shown at film festivals internationally. The film had its film festival premiere at Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in January 2014, in addition to a theatrical premiere at Fleur Cinema in Des Moines on April 24.

The screening tonight will be accompanied by a Q&A session over Skype with one of the Who Took Johnny filmmakers, Michael Galinsky.