Lena Dunhams Middle Ages-Set Catherine Called Birdy Will Make TIFF World Premiere

The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival adds another world premiere in the mix: Lena Dunham’s medieval coming-of-age comedy “Catherine Called Birdy.“

TIFF previously announced “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” and Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical drama “The Fabelmans” to debut at the 47th edition of the festival this September.

“Catherine Called Birdy” stars “Game of Thrones” alum Bella Ramsey as the title character, who finds herself as a tween bride to save her family’s name in the Middle Ages.

Per an official synopsis: “The year? 1290. In the Medieval English village of Stonebridge, Lady Catherine (known as Birdy) is the youngest child of Lord Rollo and Lady Aislinn. Her playground is Stonebridge Manor, a house that, like the family, has seen better days. Financially destitute and utterly greedy, Rollo sees his daughter as his path out of financial ruin by marrying her off to a wealthy man for money and land. But Birdy, like all the great teen heroines, is spirited, clever, and adventurous–and ready to put off any suitor that comes in increasingly ingenious ways. Her imagination, defiance and deep belief in her own right to independence put her on a collision course with her parents. When the most vile suitor of all arrives, they are presented with the ultimate test of love for their daughter.”

Lesley Sharp, Sophie Okonedo, Joe Alwyn, Isis Hainsworth, Dean-Charles Chapman, Paul Kaye, Billie Piper, and Andrew Scott lead the ensemble cast. Emmy winner Dunham writes, directs, and executive produces the coming-of-age Prime Video film, adapted from Karen Cushman’s 1996 novel of the same name. The film lands in theaters September 23 after its TIFF world premiere and debuts on Prime Video October 7.

“Catherine Called Birdy” is produced by Eric Fellner, Tim Bevan, Dunham, and Jo Wallett.

Dunham, who debuted her sophomore feature effort “Sharp Stick” at Sundance 2022 and also celebrated the 10th anniversary of “Girls” this year, has deemed “Catherine, Called Birdy” the “most ambitious project” of her career to date.

“I wanted to highlight this girl who was living in the wrong time,” Dunham told Teen Vogue. “If she was living in 2022, she would be a pretty classic tomboy or able to explore the gender binary. She’d be able to play all the sports she wanted. All of her dreams, which in 1290 are to go to a hanging and run around without a skirt on, would be achievable. But there are still as we know, huge challenges to being a woman in this day and age, and a teenage girl.”

Dunham continued, “While it feels very far away that a 13-year-old is being asked to marry a 50-year-old, we still have plenty of barbaric customs that control the way people’s bodies are dealt with. There’s so many aspects to modern life that still speak to themes of the book. I really love that we were able to highlight aspects of that, and the way the world has changed but also the way it’s stayed the same. And do it with some humor.”

“Catherine Called Birdy” premieres at 2022 TIFF before debuting in theaters September 23 and on Prime Video October 7.

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