May 21, 2018

Kristen Stewart is adapting Lidia Yuknavitch’s classic The Chronology of Water


Kristen Stewart. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

For years, Hollywood has been mining literary gems to adapt as films. Last week, actress and aspiring filmmaker Kristen Stewart spoke of her plans to bring Lidia Yuknavitch’s groundbreaking memoir, The Chronology of Water, to the big screen.

In a conversation with Tarik Khaldi, web editor for the Cannes Film Festival, Stewart (who served as a judge this year) answers a lot of inane question about French culture. But the really good part is this, when Khaldi asks her about her upcoming feature film debut:

“I’m adapting a memoir. It’s called The Chronology of Water. Lidia Yuknavitch is from Portland. I love her novels but her memoires… it’s deeply personal to her. She’s in my blood and I knew that before I met her. As soon as I met her it was like we started this race without any sense of competition. I’m making the movie this summer but other than that, my only goal is just to finish the screenplay and hire a really spectacular actor: I’m going to write the best fucking female role. I’m going to write a role that I want so badly but that I’m not going to play.

Lidia Yuknavitch reads at Powell’s in 2012. Via WikiMedia Commons.

Of course, “the best fucking female role” was already written by Lidia Yuknavitch herself, because she lived that “role” — hence the memoir, which was published by the Portland-based indie Hawthorne Books in 2011. But, according to Elise Herron at the Willamette Week, Yuknavitch and her husband Andy Mingo—who appears in the final chapters of her memoir, and first announced that an adaptation was in the works a few years ago—chose Stewart just as much as Stewart chose Yuknavitch’s story.

The Chronology of Water made so much sense [for film],” Mingo told the Week’s Sophia June in 2016, “because it’s a cult icon and people really love the story.” It’s the type of tale, he added, “that may need a female director to bring in that perspective [it] needs.”

In a 2013 review at the Huffington Post, Valerie Stivers-Isakova pretty much sums it up: “Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water is the kind of book that people don’t just read, but become converted to.” The memoir deals with Yuknavitch’s tumultuous upbringing and years as a competitive swimmer, the loss of her firstborn daughter, and her at-times volatile relationships with both men and women through her twenties and thirties. The authenticity and frankness of her voice are a testament to the power of being a woman, as well as the trauma endured by the female body. It’s with a blend of eagerness and intense curiosity that we await Stewart’s adaptation of this cult classic.



Alex Primiani is the associate director of publicity at Melville House.