In Chai Yee Wei’s short film Sister, there is a scene where death row inmate Catherine Tan asks for confession. “Forgive me Father ... I don’t even know where to begin,” she whispers to a priest before reciting a litany of sins: Prostitution. Incest. Murder.
It culminates in Catherine tearfully recounting how she assisted with the killings of two children. She breaks down as photographs of her young victims flash onscreen. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she wails.
It’s disturbing to watch. But the darkness of Catherine’s crimes heightens our awe for her counsellor, Sister Gerard Fernandez, a quiet presence by her side. While society has condemned Catherine, the genial Catholic nun is a pillar of support, giving Catherine the courage to face her demons.
Released on Jan 13, Sister is the newest film under the 15 Shorts project, a charity film initiative by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) and film company Blue3Asia. Meant to celebrate everyday heroes and inspire giving, the films in this anthology are all based on real-life Singaporeans who
gave back to the community.
There is, perhaps, no one who epitomises giving better than Sister Gerard, an 80-year-old nun who co-founded the Roman Catholic Prison Ministry in 1977. She went on to counsel prisoners for 40 years, including the most forsaken of all – death row inmates.
The filmlet is a private artistic attempt to portray the work of the Roman Catholic Prison Ministry. The Church does not condone the heinous crimes committed even though its priests, Religious Brothers and Sisters, and laity would journey with all prisoners including those on death row in prison to their last day to reveal to them the mercy and compassion of God. Even the greatest sinner can find peace if they sincerely repent of their sins and seek forgiveness.
On the other hand, the Church does not forget to pray for the families who lost their young loved ones at the hands of the three convicted murderers. The Church recognises the pain and trauma inflicted on the victims as well as their families. They too need healing and the strength to move on.
– Archbishop’s Communications Office