Sidney Kimmel Entertainment announced today that they have acquired rights to the nonfiction book Alice + Freda Forever from Berlanti Productions and that filmmaker Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) is set to direct from her own adaptation.
Historian Alexis Coe’s debut non-fiction book follows a budding romantic relationship between two young girls in 1892 Memphis, Tennessee that incited a sensational murder and electrified the nation. Published in October 2014 by PULP., an imprint of Zest Books, Alice + Freda Forever was a New Yorker “Books to Watch Out For,” an Amazon “Books of the Month” for history, a Paris Review’s “Staff Picks,” and made the fall to-read and year-end lists at Flavorwire, Bustle, School Library Journal, MSN and many others.
In chronicling Alice + Freda Forever, Coe drew on research from more than 100 love letters, maps, artifacts, historical documents, newspaper articles and courtroom proceedings to tell the tragic, real-life love story of Alice Mitchell and Freda Ward, who were forbidden to ever speak again once the love letters they exchanged are discovered. Alice is heartbroken when Freda adjusts to this fate with apparent ease, and is driven to fatal, jealous rage. Her murder trial was one of the most sensational of its time.
SKE will fully finance and co-produce with Berlanti Productions (Pan). Sidney Kimmel will produce along with Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter. Hacken will executive produce. Berlanti’s Schechter brought the project to SKE.
“Jennifer Kent was my first choice from the moment I read Coe’s exceptional book,” says Schechter. “Jennifer’s debut film was one of the most accomplished I have ever seen and I’m thrilled she shares the same passion for telling this powerful, intense and unfortunately still timely story. We are thrilled to have Sidney Kimmel Entertainment as our partners.”
“From the moment we saw ‘The Babadook,’ working with Jennifer became not only a priority but a passion,” says SKE President of Production Carla Hacken. “The combination of her extraordinary talent, this amazing material, and such great producing partners in Sarah and Greg, makes this a very high priority for SKE.”
Kent’s feature directorial debut, The Babadook, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and earned critical acclaim when released last year in the US by IFC Films. In addition to making numerous critics’ Top Ten Best Film lists, Kent received the Australian Directors Guild Award for Best Feature Film and the Australian Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.