EXCLUSIVE: Sidney Kimmel Entertainment has acquired rights to the Alexis Coe non-fiction book Alice + Freda Forever. Jennifer Kent, who directing the sleeper The Babadook, will helm and will write the script. Berlanti Productions is producing, and SKE President of Production Carla Hacken acquired it and SKE will develop it, finance the film and produce with Berlanti Productions. The book tells the story of a budding romantic relationship between two young girls in 1892 Memphis, Tennessee that incited a sensational murder and shocked the nation. Sidney Kimmel will produce along with Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter. Hacken will be exec producer.
Coe based her book on research that included more than 100 love letters, maps, artifacts, historical documents, newspaper articles and courtroom proceedings to tell the tragic, real-life love story of Alice Mitchell and Freda Ward. After their love letters were discovered, the women were forbidden to ever speak again. Ward adjusted to this with apparent ease, and that left Mitchell heartbroken. The result was fatal, jealous rage. Ward’s murder trial was one of the most sensational of its time. The book was published in 2014 by the Zest Books imprint Pulp. “From the moment we saw The Babadook, working with Jennifer became not only a priority but a passion,” Hacken said.
Said Sarah Schechter, who runs Berlanti Productions: “Jennifer Kent was my first choice from the moment I read Coe’s exceptional book. 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 thrillled to have Sidney Kimmel Entertainment as our partners.”
Kent’s breakthrough came on The Babadook, the film that premiered at 2014 Sundance and was released by IFC. It won Kent the Australian Directors Guild Award for Best Feature and the Australian Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. WME reps her.