Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird revealed as surprise film at BFI London Film Festival

The film is the actress's directorial debut.

Greta Gerwig expressed fear that her semi-autobiographical movie Lady Bird would be a disappointment to the audience as it was revealed as the surprise film at the BFI London Film Festival.

Lady Bird, an Oscar-tipped coming-of-age drama, is the Frances Ha star’s directorial debut.

It was revealed as the surprise film on the penultimate night of the festival, which will close with a gala premiere of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

As the end credits rolled, Tricia Tuttle, deputy head of festivals for the British Film Institute, welcomed Gerwig and lead actress Saoirse Ronan to the stage.

Tuttle revealed that Gerwig had been worried about the reception Lady Bird would get as the surprise film, saying: “Before we came on, Greta said, ‘Are they going to be really disappointed it’s not Thor?’”

Gerwig was visibly moved by the sustained applause for her film, saying: “We are so thankful to be here.

“Thank you to all of you for sharing this with us. This film is still very new to the world. This is the first time it’s played outside North America.”

Tuttle asked Gerwig about creating such rich characters and specifically about the moving relationship between Ronan’s character, a teenager on the cusp of womanhood, and her mother played by Laurie Metcalf.

“The working title for the movie had been Mothers And Daughters because that was the grand love story for me,” revealed Gerwig.

She explained that she discussed the role with Metcalf by telephone, recalling: “Laurie said, ‘At this exact moment, I have a 17-year-old [son] who is trying to kill me so I think I am supposed to do this.’”

Gerwig confessed that she didn’t want to write a conventional romance between one girl and one boy as part of the film because it didn’t feel authentic: “There are no perfect people, there are no perfect lives.”

She added jokingly: “Anyone who was raised on Titanic, you’re basically f**ked forever.”

Lady Bird will be released in the UK on December 29.

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