In recent years, the Serial podcast, the documentary series The Jinx, and Making a Murderer, have ushered in a new era of true crime documentary storytelling. And while you await the next season of Netflix's Making a Murderer, you can check out the streaming service's latest entry in that genre, The Keepers, when the seven-part series launches May 19.
The Keepers is already drawing comparisons to Making a Murderer, as Ryan White's (Serena, The Case Against 8) series delves into the long-unsolved murder of Baltimore nun Sister Cathy Cesnik, and the secrets and pain that have lingered more than 45 years after her death.Cesnik, a Catholic high school teacher in Baltimore, went missing on Nov. 7, 1969. Her body was found nearly two months later.
On Wednesday, Netflix released this official trailer for The Keepers:
Over the course of the series, White pieces together events through conversations with friends, relatives, journalists, government officials and Baltimore citizens determined to find out the truth, with the story going beyond Sister Cathy's death and encompassing clergy abuse, repressed memories, and government and religious institutions that White says "at best, dropped the ball over the last 45 years—and, at worst, covered it up."
"We never set out in making this to solve a murder," White says of The Keepers, "but what has happened through making it is it has drawn people out in a way that wouldn't have happened if there wasn't going to be such a scrutiny or risk of exposure."
Although The Keepers may draw comparisons to the likes of Serial and Making a Murderer, the origins of the series actually began before projects like those came to public attention.
The docuseries has viewers hooked and clamoring for more true crime, which has gone upscale for the networks. Plus: Will there be a Season 2?
"This was before The Jinx and Making a Murderer," White says, "so there wasn't really a precedent for making a series. We were thinking maybe we'd make a feature-length documentary." But after shooting roughly 750 hours of footage, he knew that wouldn't be possible.
In addition to allowing him to tell the story properly as a series, White also believes that the documentary's "all at once" distribution on Netflix will be helpful in alleviating concerns about survivors of the events covered in the series.
"We thought it would be too emotionally taxing for our subjects to have to watch something once a week over the course of two months and not know what was going on," the director says.
"Visibility, more so than ever to me on my other films, is a huge part of this," White concludes. "I feel like the reach Netflix has is also going to hopefully create that dialogue that, in a dream world, would stop this from happening again."
The Keepers, Launches May 19, Netflix