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NU Film Society to screen ‘Lady Bird’

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Film Society will conclude its Women Director’s series with a screening of Lady Bird on Tuesday night.

The screening will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the New Ulm Public Library basement.

“Lady Bird” is a coming-of-age comedy-drama about a high-school senior named Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) growing up in Sacramento. Early in the film McPherson gives herself the name Lady Bird and prefers this name over her given name.

Throughout the film Lady Bird longs to move on from her life in Sacramento. Lady Bird’s main goal is to attend an Ivy League college in a city far from her home town. Her dream leads Lady Bird to rebel and push for greater independence. The decision to change her name to Lady Bird is a minor act of rebellion. Other actions put her in conflict with her friends and especially her mom.

At its core, “Lady Bird” is a story about a contentious relationship between mother and daughter. Lady Bird finds her mother (Laurie Metcalf) overbearing and overly critical while her mom sees Lady Bird as an ungrateful teenager. The truth is likely somewhere in between.

“Lady Bird” was released in 2017 and directed by Greta Gerwig. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Best Picture and Best Director.

In receiving a best director nomination this year, Gerwig became the fifth woman to receive this honor.

Gerwig started her career as an actress, appearing in the films “Greenberg” and “Frances Ha.” Gerwig co-wrote “Frances Ha” as well as acted in it. She would go to write the script for “Lady Bird” as well as directing the film.

“Lady Bird” is loosely based on Gerwig’s life experiences. The film is set in 2002 when Gerwig graduated from high school in Sacramento. Her own yearbooks were used as reference points to making the film.

Gerwig has said the film is not a direct biography of her life but more of love letter to her home town. She wanted to film to feel “like a memory.”

Gerwig strived for attention to detail in filming “Lady Bird.” All the minor details in the background were intended to communicate information about the characters or about the Sacramento community.

Even the negative space between characters provides information. Whenever Lady Bird and her mother are framed together within a single shot, both characters are as far from each other as possible, even while inside the cramped space of a car. For the audience, it feels like it is only a matter of time before one of them tries to flee the scene, which does happen in hilarious and unexpected fashion.

“Lady Bird” is a subtle but effective film that tells a familiar story for many young women. It is a film that tries to communicate the message of living in the moment and focusing on what and who you love.

The Tuesday, May 8 screening of “Lady Bird” will close out the New Ulm Film Society’s Women Directors Film series. Members of the Film Society will facilitate discussion before and after the film.

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