Anatomy of a Serial: Closing Conversation with Ryan White and Jean Wehner, The Keepers

October 20, 2017
4:30 pm  -  5:30 pm
National Union Building

Set in Baltimore in the 1960s, The Keepers investigates the unsolved murder of Sister Catherine Cesnick, a beloved nun at Archbishop Keogh High School, who tried to stop the serial sexual abuse of students by the school’s chaplain. Nominated for an Emmy Award and told in serial form over seven episodes, Ryan White’s remarkable film follows an investigative reporter and two alums of the school, now retired, who take it upon themselves to unravel the mystery of their former teacher’s brutal killing, a murder that has reverberated through the decades.


The Keepers raises important questions about police involvement in a network of abuse in a town where the archdiocese ruled unchallenged, the church leadership’s indifference to the suffering of victims, the failure of prosecutors to protect the public, and the subsequent cover-up that allowed a killer to literally get away with murder. From a cinematic perspective, The Keepers expands the distinctive experience of episodic storytelling—which is fast emerging as standard in the visual and aural investigative mode. Its journey illustrates a film’s ability to intervene in and directly impact the world beyond celluloid, and explores the responsibility of a filmmaker to his subject, who entrusts her most vulnerable secret to his film.


White, himself a Catholic, set out expecting the church to eagerly assist in solving the mystery of what happened to Sister Catherine, and was surprised at the resistance he encountered these many years later. The Keepers has succeeded, however, in forcing a reopening of the case—a testimony to its riveting power and humanity.

Session Category :  2017