Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, “Lady Bird,” a mother-daughter dramedy starring Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf, had its New York premiere Sunday evening at the New York Film Festival. (The film’s world premiere was at the Telluride Film Festival.)
Gerwig looked Grace Kelly elegant in a strapless Ralph Lauren gown. Joining her on the red carpet were cast members Beanie Feldstein (Jonah Hill’s baby sister), Kathryn Newton, Tracy Letts and Lois Smith. (Sadly Ronan, Metcalf, Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet did not attend.)
Later during the Q&A following the screening Gerwig said the working title of the movie was “Mothers and Daughters,” and that she kept focusing on that. “I decided to take away anything that felt like it didn’t circle back to that,” but “ I didn’t want to literally spend the whole time of the movie just on the mother and daughter.”
To a question from an audience member about the small number of female directors, Gerwig said they were the ones who encouraged her to pursue directing.
“I think it’s no accident that I had just finished making ‘Maggie’s Plan’ with Rebecca Miller right at the time I was finishing this script and I felt like I could direct this. And I had also worked with Mia Hansen-Love in a small part and I just love her movies so much, ‘Eden,’which also played ay this festival.” Gerwig said she also had an encounter with Sally Porter, where she asked her questions about writing and how you do it? “And she stopped and she said, ‘Why don’t you ask me what you really want to ask me? You want to ask me about directing because that’s what you want to do.’ And I said, how does she know? And she said, ‘I’m half a gypsy.’ You are! Magical thinking.”
Because Gerwig is from Sacramento — the movie opens with a Joan Didion quote about the California capital — everyone has assumed the movie is loosely based on her life.
“The story is its own and the characters are their own,” Gerwig said. “There’s a core of truth that is connected to who I am and my experiences. And certainly Sacramento is my home town and those locations mean a lot to me and there are things about it that are deeply part of me. But the stories itself and the characters are fiction.”
After the screening, which received a very warm warm reception from the audience, guests partied across the street at Shun Lee West. Guests including Gerwig’s boyfriend Noah Baumbach, whose film “Meyerowitz Stories” screened at the New York Film Festival last week.
“Lady Bird” opens November 3.