Jennifer Kent is moving from monsters to murderers with Alice + Frida Forever, an adaptation of historian Alexis Coe’s debut non-fiction book about a budding romance between two young women that incited a sensational murder in late 19th century Memphis, Tennessee. Kent will direct her own adaptation of the book with Sidney Kimmel set to produce along with Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter.
Coe’s true crime story chronicles the tragic love story of Alice Mitchell an Freda Ward, two high school-aged girls who were planning to wed in secret when they were forbidden from ever speaking again after the discovery of their love letters. When Freda adjusts with apparent ease, Alice is driven into a jealous, homicidal rage, slitting the throat of her ex-fiance.
In a press release Schecter stated,
“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 thrilled to have Sidney Kimmel Entertainment as our partners.”
This seems like a perfect match. With The Babadook, Kent demonstrated a knack for skillfully exploring the dark reaches of the human mind in a way that’s both cinematic and relatable (and also scary as hell). She also seems interested in unexplored female stories – The Babadook was as much about motherhood as it was about monsters – and the perils of being a lesbian in the 1800s South is not a story we’ve seen explored yet. This is the kind of project that gets me really excited. A talented new voice tackling untold stories with enthusiastic support of a studio behind them
Here’s the synopsis from the official ZestBooks website.
In 1892, America was obsessed with a teenage murderess, but it wasn’t her crime that shocked the nation—it was her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had planned to pass as a man in order to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but when their love letters were discovered, they were forbidden from ever speaking again.
Freda adjusted to this fate with an ease that stunned a heartbroken Alice. Her desperation grew with each unanswered letter—and her father’s razor soon went missing. On January 25, Alice publicly slashed her ex-fiancée’s throat. Her same-sex love was deemed insane by her father that very night, and medical experts agreed: This was a dangerous and incurable perversion. As the courtroom was expanded to accommodate national interest, Alice spent months in jail—including the night that three of her fellow prisoners were lynched (an event which captured the attention of journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells). After a jury of “the finest men in Memphis” declared Alice insane, she was remanded to an asylum, where she died under mysterious circumstances just a few years later.
Alice + Freda Forever recounts this tragic, real-life love story with over 100 illustrated love letters, maps, artifacts, historical documents, newspaper articles, courtroom proceedings, and intimate, domestic scenes.