American Priestess – Screenplay by Jason Spafford

I haven’t posted humorous short stories in a while, so why not a period piece Screenplay. ┬áThe screenplay is based on a biography of the same name by author Jane Fletcher Geniesse. This biography tells the story of a woman named Anna Spafford and takes place between the mid 1850s and early 1900s. I had been aware of the basics of the story since the 1970s, when we got a mailing about donating to The Spafford House in Jerusalem. My dad handed over the letter to my Aunt Juanita, the unofficial family archivist, and we thought nothing more about it.

Anna’s husband Horatio Spafford wrote a well-known hymn after a family tragedy, titled “It is Well with My Soul” . We knew this story and eventually my aunt was even in contact with the descendants of Anna and Horatio, and donated items to their cause. In 2008, Jane Geniesse wrote a book about Anna Spafford. I read it and then reread it. In 2010, a friend was in Israel for an extended visit with friends and relatives and he visited the original Spafford House, which since the 1960s has been The American Colony – a 5 star hotel, hosting the likes of Sadat and Begin and other dignitaries striving for peace in the Middle East.

I contacted the author and asked if the movie rights were still available. I told her that it was beyond me and I was just curious, having produced and directed in the past and thinking that the story would make a great movie. She said, “You should write a screenplay.” Another year passed and I started playing around with the structure of the story for a screenplay. I finally committed to writing something and went through multiple drafts.

I’ve decided to post it here.

Sadly yours,

Jason A. Spafford

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