AFI Movie Club: LADY BIRD – American Film Institute
Lady Bird Film Still - Saoirse Ronan



LADY BIRD, an elegiac coming of age story about growing up in Sacramento, is partially inspired by the childhood of writer/director Greta Gerwig – a three-time Oscar® nominee. Along with five Academy Award® nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, LADY BIRD was honored with an AFI AWARD in 2017, recognizing it as one of the 10 outstanding films deemed culturally and artistically significant.

Movie Trivia about TODAY’S FILM

-DID YOU KNOW that, according to writer/director Greta Gerwig, the first draft of her script for LADY BIRD was 350 pages long, which would have made for a movie nearly six hours long?

-DID YOU KNOW that LADY BIRD is Greta Gerwig’s solo feature directorial debut?

-DID YOU KNOW that Christine’s self-given nickname – “Lady Bird” – wasn’t inspired by Lady Bird Johnson? Rather, Gerwig told NPR’s Terry Gross that it was likely influenced by the words to a Mother Goose nursery rhyme: “Ladybird, ladybird/Fly away home/Your house is on fire/And your children all gone.”

-DID YOU KNOW that the first thing Greta Gerwig told her cinematographer was, “I want this film to look like a memory”?

-DID YOU KNOW that, for inspiration about attending an American high school, Saoirse Ronan drew from her memories of watching “Saved by the Bell” as a child?

-DID YOU KNOW that, to prepare the cast and crew of LADY BIRD, Greta Gerwig gave them her old high school yearbooks, photos and journals as well as passages written by Sacramento native Joan Didion? She also took them on a tour of her hometown.

-DID YOU KNOW Greta Gerwig chose cinematographer Sam Levy based on previous experience working with him – as an actress – in FRANCES HA, MAGGIE’S PLAN and MISTRESS AMERICA?

-DID YOU KNOW cinematographer Sam Levy was visually inspired by Andrew Wyeth paintings that reflected California’s agriculture and topography?

-DID YOU KNOW that Greta Gerwig originally wanted to shoot LADY BIRD on Super 16 film stock but – due to budget constraints – it was ultimately shot on digital with the Arri Alexa Mini?

-DID YOU KNOW that while directing the prom scenes, Greta Gerwig wore a prom dress herself? Gerwig describes the pink prom dress Lady Bird wears as “a little tip of the hat to PRETTY IN PINK.”

-DID YOU KNOW Greta Gerwig always wanted talented multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion (MAGNOLIA, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND) to compose the score for LADY BIRD? Brion created a piano motif that repeats itself throughout LADY BIRD and is later punctuated with melodious feedback, evocative of memory itself.

-DID YOU KNOW that the cast includes four Oscar® nominees – Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet?

-DID YOU KNOW that three cast members – Saoirse Ronan, Tracy Letts, and Timothée Chalamet – all appear in Greta Gerwig’s recent adaptation of LITTLE WOMEN?

-DID YOU KNOW that Greta Gerwig is one of only five women in history to receive an Academy award® nomination for Best Director?


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

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-In the film’s opening, both Christine and her mom are crying over “The Grapes of Wrath.” What’s the symbolism of this literary touchstone?

-Why do you think Lady Bird decides to jump out of a moving car in the opening? What are some of the ways in which she declares her independence throughout the film?

-Can you relate to the complicated relationship between Lady Bird and her mom?

-During the shopping scene, Lady Bird says she wants her mom to “like her” to which Marion responds, “Of course, I love you.” What’s the important difference between “liking” and “loving” in this context and what validation is Lady Bird seeking?

-While Lady Bird is the main protagonist of the film, did you ever sympathize or empathize with her mother? Why or why not?

-Why do you think Christine gave herself the nickname “Lady Bird”?

-What did you think of Lady Bird’s relationship with her father? How does Gerwig use Tracey Letts’ character to talk about mental health and depict an unconventional side of masculinity?

-What did you think of Lady Bird’s love interests – Danny and Kyle? How are they polar opposites as boyfriends? What does Lady Bird learn about love – both romantic and platonic throughout the film?

-Why does Lady Bird lie to Jenna about where she lives? Why does she start gravitating to her and away from her best friend Julie?

-What’s the significance to the moment in which Lady Bird admits she likes Dave Matthews’ “Crash into Me” on the way to Prom? What did you think of Lady Bird rekindling her friendship with Julie?

-Sister Sarah Joan observes how lovingly Lady Bird writes about her hometown even if she says she’s desperate to escape it. What does Sacramento represent for her?

-What other coming of age films are meaningful to you and impacted you growing up?

-How would you rank LADY BIRD?


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