After well-reviewed horror hit “The Babadook” you would expect that its director would be scooped up for a new movie. Not so inevitable, these days, when the director is a woman. But Australian actress-writer-director Jennifer Kent has landed a project for which is she is well-suited. Sidney Kimmel Entertainment has hired Kent to adapt the non-fiction book “Alice + Freda Forever,” acquiring the movie rights from Berlanti Productions. Greg Berlanti is a powerful television producer (CBS’s “Supergirl,” “Mysteries of Laura” on NBC, the CW’s hits “Arrow” and “The Flash”) who has moved into movie production with Warner Bros.’ October release, Joe Wright’s “Pan,” starring Hugh Jackman, among other projects.
SKE President of Production Carla Hacken will supervise the SKE-financed movie version of historian Alexis Coe’s debut non-fiction book about a budding romantic relationship between two young girls in 1892 Memphis, Tennessee that incited a sensational murder. For her October, 2014 publication (PULP, an imprint of Zest Books), Coe drew on research from more than 100 love letters, maps, artifacts, historical documents, newspaper articles and courtroom proceedings to tell the tragic, real-life love story of Alice Mitchell and Freda Ward, who when there love letters were discovered, were forbidden to contact each other again. When Ward seems to make this adjustment, heartsick Mitchell is driven to jealous rage and murder. Her trial was one of the most sensational of its day.
SKE will co-produce with Berlanti Productions. Sidney Kimmel will produce along with Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter. Hacken will executive produce.
“Jennifer’s debut film was one of the most accomplished I have ever seen,” said Schechter, “and I’m thrilled she shares the same passion for telling this powerful, intense and unfortunately still timely story.”
“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, and MSN among others.
Kent’s feature directorial debut “The Babadook” premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was released by IFC Films. That year Kent won the Australian Directors Guild Award for Best Feature Film and the Australian Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
SKE is currently in production on David Mackenzie’s contemporary action thriller, “Comancheria,” starring Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster (CBS Films). Upcoming 2015 releases include Leslye Headland’s “Sleeping With Other People,” starring Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Adam Scott and Amanda Peet (IFC), and Jean Marc Vallee’s “Demolition,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts (Fox Searchlight).