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Lady Bird party
Photography Kevin Williams

Inside the Lady Bird-themed Oscars party in Greta Gerwig’s old school

St. Francis High School celebrated the alumni with cardboard cutouts of Greta, snippets from her yearbook and videos of her high school performances

Last night, Hollywood’s stars gathered at the Dolby theatre in Los Angeles for the Oscars, celebrating the best in cinema; the searing tragicomedy of Three Billboards, The Post’s vigour, Get Out’s biting horror, the stunning fantasy of Shape of Water, the deeply romantic Call Me By Your Name, and Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig’s honest, triumphant coming-of-age story.

About 400 miles away in Sacramento, St. Francis Catholic girls high school celebrated Gerwig as one of the city’s greatest exports and a successful alumni with a Lady Bird-themed Oscars party. The acclaimed filmmaker and actress attended the school – performing in various plays and musicals from the Wizard of Oz to The Apple Tree – and graduated in 2002. Though the film didn’t win big last night, it still proved a momentous occasion for all those in attendance.

“I think what Greta did in Lady Bird was speak authentically and speak volumes to the people around her and the city of Sacramento,” says MaryAnne Kelly, St. Francis’ Head of Advancement. “You can see a little bit of yourself in the characters, whether it’s the mom or Lady Bird.”

One young woman in attendance and student of St. Francis said: “What I love about Lady Bird, is that of course it’s based off my high school! I love how Greta included Sacramento in her film – you see familiar places while watching it, and you're like, ‘hey I know that spot!’. She makes it feel like coming out of Sacramento and St. Francis that you can really do anything.”

“She makes it feel like coming out of Sacramento and St. Francis that you can really do anything”

Over 350 people attended the party for St Francis’ staff and students. Attendees walked a red carpet and posed with a smiling cardboard cutout of Greta. A short film tribute played with snippets of the director’s high school musical performances and yearbook photos. The Oscars ceremony was then livestreamed into the school hall.

Lady Bird treats the Catholic girls school experience with a tender eye. As a senior at Immaculate Heart – or Immaculate Fart – Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) spends time daydreaming at school mass, eating communion wafers and chatting about masturbating, and vandalising a nun’s car with ‘Just Married to Jesus’ signs and decorations. She meets boyfriends and love interests, navigates steadfast and fickle friendships, and looks to an uncertain future. It’s Sister Sarah Joan too that suggests to Lady Bird that she genuinely has a love for Sacramento.

Other locals have been similarly inspired by Gerwig – a Lady Bird walking tour exists, where visitors can see the dreamy blue house Lady Bird longed to live in, the dive bar, and the rose garden where Danny declined to touch her boobs. Local company Marquee Media also put up 11 billboards congratulating Gerwig.

The near-autobiographical film is Gerwig’s directorial and writing debut, and was up for five awards across the Oscars night. She’s also the fifth woman ever to be nominated for best director, up against Jordan Peele and winner Guillermo Del Toro. Gerwig spoke previously about wanting to make three more films about Sacramento after Lady Bird, inspired by author Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet.

Though Gerwig and the incredible Lady Bird cast walked away with no accolades last night, the love and pride radiating from her alma mater and city is a beautiful prize in itself.