“From the moment I read it, I felt I had a special connection to the main character. She was bratty, but loving, she could be brave, but childlike. She was a character who felt like she completely resonated on my frequency,” says writer-director Lena Dunham about what drew her to the young adult novel “Catherine Called Birdy” when she read it at age 10. Now as an adult Dunham has adapted the novel into a feature film. We talked to Dunham as part of our “Meet the Experts” film writers panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Catherine Called Birdy” is a coming of age film set in 13th century England, where the rambunctious title character (played by Bella Ramsey), a 14-year-old noble girl, resists the expectations placed on young women to marry and produce children. Even though she’s barely a teenager, her father Rollo (Andrew Scott) is already trying to match her with a wealthy suitor. The screenplay has brought a Gotham Awards nomination for Dunham.
When Dunham was a child she singularly identified with Birdy, but “as I grew my empathy for the characters besides Birdie grew,” from her nursemaid Morwenna (Lesley Sharp) to her mother Aislinn (Billie Piper) who has endured numerous stillbirths, and even to her father Rollo, who has “his own masculinized version of these pressures.” Dunham’s growing understanding of the ensemble “opened it all up for me in a new way.”
But through it all there’s still Birdy, who resists being treated as property: “I think it’s a bit of a misconception that we sometimes have that women and people who were marginalized just went along with that … There have always been fighters.” The world is changed by those who recognize the injustices of the status quo. “What I love about Birdie is that, despite every element keeping her down … she continues to buck against those trends. And she does it with humor, and she does it with style.” That’s why “it’s a wonderful character to get to embody as a writer.”
Make your predictions at Gold Derby now. Download our free and easy app for Apple/iPhone devices or Android (Google Play) to compete against legions of other fans plus our experts and editors for best prediction accuracy scores. See our latest prediction champs. Can you top our esteemed leaderboards next? Always remember to keep your predictions updated because they impact our latest racetrack odds, which terrify Hollywood chiefs and stars. Don’t miss the fun. Speak up and share your huffy opinions in our famous forums where 5,000 showbiz leaders lurk every day to track latest awards buzz. Everybody wants to know: What do you think? Who do you predict and why?