Landing Up, the final movie Morgan Freeman’s step-granddaughter E’Dena Hines made before she was fatally stabbed is now available for preorder. PEOPLE has an exclusive look at her performance, as well as behind-the-scenes footage of her warm relationship with her costars.
Premiering on May 15, the film’s release comes just days after Hines’ boyfriend was convicted of manslaughter in connection with her death. Lamar Davenport, 33, was charged with second-degree murder after authorities said he stabbed Hines more than a dozen times in August 2015. She was found lying in the street outside her home at 3 a.m. and was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead at age 33.
Remembering Hines’ audition, director Dani Tenenbaum said, “Once E’Dena walked into the audition, she brought some rawness that I’ve never seen before and we knew that we needed.”
In the film, Hines stars as a street-smart homeless woman named Cece who teams up with her best friend Chrissie, played by the film’s screenwriter, Stacey Maltin, to seduce men into giving them food and shelter. All the while, Cece and Chrissie dream of finding their own apartment and forming stable relationships.
“For me, for the acting process, it was really just a great way to kind of use any experiences I had ever had in life and just let Cece be in me,” Hines said in a behind-the-scenes clip alongside Maltin. “Chrissy and Cece are survivor siblings. I love that you made these two strong women. There’s still a sense of positivity underneath all of it.”
Tenenbaum previously told PEOPLE, “There were some moments when we couldn’t really figure out if we were talking to E’Dena or Cece. And I think part of it has to do with some of her background, or her boyfriend’s background. He had some experience in homeless shelters, so this was something that was close to her. She talked to us in rehearsals about how this did feel personal to her.”
Hines’ grandmother is Freeman’s first wife, and Hines’ mother was Freeman’s stepdaughter until he adopted her. Hines attended a graduate acting program at New York University from 2008 to 2011.
At her boyfriend’s trial this week, the prosecution argued that Davenport was enraged that Hines was going to break up with him. Text messages shared during the trial showed Davenport and Hines talked about taking a break before Hines’ death. Prosecutors said their relationship was rocky before the stabbing.
But Davenport’s lawyers argued argued that he was high on PCP at the time of the attack. According to defense witness Xavier Gardere, Davenport straddled Hines as he stabbed, her, screaming “I love you. I always loved you. God would have wanted this.”
In a statement to PEOPLE immediately after Hines was killed, Freeman reflected on her talent and how she touched the lives of those who knew her.
“The world will never know her artistry and talent, and how much she had to offer,” he said. “Her friends and family were fortunate enough to have known what she meant as a person. Her star will continue to shine bright in our hearts, thoughts and prayers. May she rest in peace.”
Landing Up is available for pre-order until May 15, when it will be downloadable.