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Greta Gerwig Reveals Inspirations for ‘Lady Bird,’ From ‘American Graffiti’ to ‘Carrie’ and More

The filmmaker has programmed her very own series at NYC's Quad Cinema, revealing a dozen cinematic influences that shaped "Lady Bird."

Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in “Lady Bird”


Later this week, fans of Greta Gerwig’s wholly charming brand of cinema are in for a very big treat when her solo directorial debut “Lady Bird” arrives in limited release. Already lauded on the festival circuit and considered something of an Oscar contender in a slew of categories, the film draws much of its inspiration from Gerwig’s own coming-of-age in suburban Sacramento. Featuring Saoirse Ronan as the eponymous Lady Bird (sure, her birth certificate says “Christine,” but the whipsmart high school senior doesn’t have much time for such restrictions), the film follows the restless teen as she comes to grips with the push-pull of home, family, friends, and boys, all as she’s about to go enter full-scale adulthood.

While Gerwig has been a bit cagey on the exact parallels between Lady Bird and herself (at a recent New York Film Festival press conference, the filmmaker said, “Nothing in the movie literally happened in my life, but it has a core of truth that resonates with what I know”), it’s clear that it’s a story very close to her heart. It was also apparently inspired by a number of other films — including a hearty helping of American classics — that Gerwig herself  says helped shape what would become both “Lady Bird” and her filmmaking career at large.

At New York City’s own Quad Cinema, Gerwig has programmed a dozen of those films as part of their “Origin Stories” series, mostly features that speak directly to the big themes of “Lady Bird,” from the relationship between mothers and daughters, to life in Northern California, and even a sizable dose of musical theater. Gerwig will appear in person at select screenings, which run from November 1 – 9 at the Quad (though who is to stop you from programming the exact same lineup from the comfort of your own home, should that be something you’re driven to do…).

Check out the full listing of films below.

“American Graffiti,” George Lucas, 1973, 35mm

“Amarcord,” Federico Fellini, 1974, 35mm

“Carrie,” Brian De Palma, 1976

“Fat City,” John Huston, 1972, DCP

“Flirting,” John Duigan, 1990, 35mm

“The 400 Blows,” François Truffaut, 1959, 35mm

“Grey Gardens,” David and Albert Maysles, 1975, DCP

“Grey Gardens”

“Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles,” Chantal Akerman, 1975, 35mm

“Original Cast Album: Company,” D.A. Pennebaker, 1970, 35mm

“Pretty in Pink,” Howard Deutch, 1986, 35mm

“Say Anything…,” Cameron Crowe, 1989, DCP

“Secrets & Lies,” Mike Leigh, 1996, 35mm

A24 will release “Lady Bird” on November 3.

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