Edwin P. Stevens remembers his late sister, Alice Stevens, as he tells the story of a murdered loved one from the victim’s family’s perspective in Alice is Still Dead. This film is a tribute to Alice.
On November 3, 2013, Alice Stevens and her boyfriend Forrest returned home from a night out in Thunderbolt, Georgia. Police quickly fled to the home when a neighbor called reporting to have heard 5-6 gunshots. Forrest was pronounced dead immediately, with Alice passing away on her way to the hospital.
Narrated (and directed) by Edwin, Alice is Still Dead features anecdotes from the detective’s notification to her family to facing the killer in court, viewers will see the pain, anger, and heartbreak the family must endure while the nightmare is investigated. The intimate and unflinching documentary ultimately explores the progression of grief, asking if it’s possible to move forward after a traumatic event.
I loved your documentary and I am very sorry for your loss.
Edwin: Thank you so much for watching and for your kind words!
Why did you decide to create a documentary for your sister?
Edwin: I decided to create a documentary for Alice firstly out of helplessness. There were so many things left unsaid between us that I was able to explore and (in a way) say to her through the film. There were also years of waiting between when the murders occurred and when the trials finally took place, and in the meantime, I needed something proactive to work on to sort through my emotions.
As I made the film, I realized that this was a unique perspective on the true-crime story (with the filmmaker being so close to the victim and involved in the judicial processes) and I also hoped that it could be somewhat of a solace to others who have experienced traumatic loss.
What was this process like for you and your family?
Edwin: For me, this process was terrifying but necessary. I needed to face my grief head-on to make some sort of sense of Alice’s death and loss. I was able to interview so many important people from her life who were very generous with their time, along with some of the officials who worked the case and helped bring Alice justice.
In my family’s case, they were very nervous about me making this film. No one likes to see a loved one purposefully walk towards the darkness. But sometimes, in order to gain some light, one must face their darkness, and I think most if not all of my family is now proud that I made this film.
How long were you working on this and putting it together?
Edwin: This project was actively filmed for about 3 years. Whether I knew it was a film I would make or not, it was something I had been thinking about constantly since Alice’s murder. The film is really a projection of my thoughts put onto film.
This was very hard to watch, I got really emotional. It’s so honest and real. What was your approach to creating the narrative, how did you decide what to include?
Edwin: Thank you for that. It’s nice to hear that you connected with the film.
My approach to the film was that if I was going to do it, I would have to go all in. Going down this road halfway was not going to help me or create an interesting narrative. My policy was that 100% honesty was essential to telling this story and conveying the feelings I was experiencing.
When deciding what to include, I put total trust in my editor, Meredith Mantik. We have been friends for 15 years now and we have collaborated on many films together. Having established such a strong relationship and trust with her allowed me to let go as much as I could and allowed her to sculpt the best version of the story without me interfering in unnecessary ways. How would I ever be able to cut my sister’s whole life and death down into a digestible film? I couldn’t. As this story is so extremely personal, it was difficult to relinquish total control, but I can’t stress enough how much better this film became with Meredith’s involvement.
The title is very jarring, how did you decide on the title?
Edwin: Thank you. The title was something that I contemplated with my close collaborator, Joe Raffa, for a year or so. This film was largely filmed by both of us. No title seemed to encapsulate the film without feeling overly sensational. But Joe suggested “Alice is Still Dead” and it felt right. It’s gripping, it’s honest, and, unfortunately, no matter what else happens in my life, it will always be true.
Grief plays a huge part in your film, and a lot of media pushes the idea that we can get past grief. Your documentary takes a different approach to grief, can you explain your approach?
Edwin: I have so many thoughts on grief, but the most important is that it is a personal experience. There is no “one size fits all” approach to conquering or healing grief. If you are experiencing grief, please don’t let anyone else tell you how you should live with it. We all have different angles that work for each of us. We are unique individuals with unique tastes and grief should not be treated any differently.
I know for me, it was important to actively face my grief, but that may not be the case for everyone. The grief from Alice’s loss will always be a part of my heart, mind, and soul. I do not feel like there is a cure or that there is “closure” for this type of grief, but I can report that doing the work has made the grief less intense and my moments of breaking down are far less frequent.
Was this approach to grief something you thought of going into the project or did you discover it through this process?
Edwin: I really wanted to investigate this difficult topic, because grief is something we all experience in our lives in one way or another, but it is infrequently discussed because it makes us so uncomfortable. Uncomfortable as it may be, it is the reality for me and for many other people, that we must continue our lives despite our grief.
I would love to tell you that I discovered some big secret about grief and how to deal with it, but unfortunately, I feel like I’m still learning about it every day.
What do you want people to take away from watching your documentary?
Edwin: My greatest hope is that people can watch the film and remember that life is impermanent. I hope it can inspire people to live for the moment and enjoy the little victories in their lives. I also hope that it encourages people to give their loved ones an extra squeeze and to express the love we have for one another while we have the chance. Tomorrow is never promised.
I also hope that people with similar stories can view this film and relate to it. You are not alone even when it seems like no one shares your experience or when it seems like no one wants to hear about it. I do. And, I know that there are others out there who want to hear about it too, as painful as it can be.
What would you say to other families that are currently experiencing grief?
Edwin: I would love to tell them to be patient with themselves and others. You might not make progress in your grief as quickly as you would like to and that’s ok. That doesn’t mean you aren’t growing. Other people most likely won’t be able to relate to you fully, but if you hold on to the people who will at least listen to you, you are on the right track.
You asked your mother what brought her happiness, what kinds of things bring you happiness now?
Edwin: It has been 8 years since Alice’s murder and not a day goes by where I don’t have some sort of intense introspection about it. It is always with me. That being said, it is far less omnipresent than it was years ago.
I love spending time with my wife and 3 kids. The children bring me so much joy just watching them develop into little human beings. My wife has been my rock throughout everything we’ve been through together, and I don’t know where I’d be without her.
But I do think that I value connecting and keeping up with others more than I used to. Life seemed so long before, but now it’s apparent that I have no idea how long it will be.
What is something you want the audience to know about Alice?
Edwin: I think the craziest part about this story is that Alice was not connected to drugs, gangs, or crime of any kind. She was an extremely kind and generous soul who lived life by those standards. It was astonishing to see how many people from her life (at all stages) were willing to take time out of their days to meet with me and a camera to preserve her memory. For that to be the case, she clearly was pretty remarkable.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about your documentary?
Edwin: This film has three aspects that I think are important. It preserves the memory of my beautiful and wonderful little sister. It explores the grief we all feel when we lose a loved one, whether it be sudden and tragic or expected. And it delves into what it is really like to be a family member of a victim during the court trials. It is a true-crime story told from the other side of the coin.