Southpaw preps pix from historical tales

'Women' based on Fergus novel, 'Same' comes from shorts compilation

Southpaw Media has optioned feature film rights to two new properties “One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd” and “We Are Children Just the Same,” the latter in partnership with Gregg Fienberg’s Fearless Films.

“Women,” published by St. Martin’s Press and to be adapted by Jim Fergus from his book of the same name, is a historical novel about the unusual “Brides for Indians” program, suggested by Cheyenne Chief Little Wolf to President U.S. Grant in 1874. Novel, published in 1998, imagines the government offered pardons or release to women in jails, penitentiaries, debtors prison and mental institutions on the condition the women actually went to live among the so-called “savages” (in exchange for an equal number of horses). Project tells the story of the unjustly institutionalized May Dodd, who seeks to be reunited with her child after participating in the program.

Project was brought to Southpaw by filmmaker Michealene Cristini Risley and will be overseen at Southpaw by development veep Corey Ackerman.

“Same” is a compilation of short stories, poems and artwork created by a group of 13- to 15-year old Jewish boys in the Terezin concentration camp during World War II. The boys secretly published these works in a magazine called “Vedem” (In the Lead) that playwright (and Czech Republic president) Vaclav Havel describes in his foreword as “not only a memento of the horrors of the ghetto and of war, but an inspiration to live.” The compilation is being adapted by Susan Nanus and will be produced by Richard Lewis, Fienberg and Victor Solniki.

“From the outset, Southpaw Media Group’s aim has been to produce films that are both diverse and important,” said Southpaw chairman Richard Lewis. “I can’t think of any two projects that fit the bill better. They are both remarkable books, and we look forward to the challenge of bringing them to the screen in a manner that will do them justice.”

In addition to the new acquisitions, Lewis and screenwriter Sam Egan are penning “Just Like Us,” a screenplay inspired by bestseller “Next of Kin” by famed primatologist Roger Fouts.

Company also is developing two event movies in conjunction with Bill Mechanic’s Disney-based Pandemonium shingle — “The Whole Wide World,” a love story set in the midst of NASA’s early lunar missions, and “Across the Universe,” an intergalactic epic adventure set in the far reaches of outer space. Company also recently sold sci-fi pitch “The Volunteer” to New Line Cinema, with Nicolas Cage attached to star and, with his Saturn Films partner Norm Golightly and Lewis, produce as well.

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