Lena Dunham discussed a wide array of topics with writer and author Ariel Levy during the 15th annual New Yorker Festival on Friday night, including her aspirations to turn Karen Cushman's "Catherine, Called Birdy" into a feature film.
"This is actually my first time talking about it publicly," Dunham said about the project. "I'm very excited about it. I'm not sure when it'll happen, but I'm in the process of [working on it]."
Written by Cushman, the 1994 novel -- which won the Newbury Prize in 1995 -- tells the story of Catherine, a 12-year-old coming of age in 1290 England. "[She] gets her period and her father basically says, 'Well, it's time for you to get married,' and she's like, 'Uh, no,'" Dunham told the crowd. "But it's hyper realistic and really pretty and it's full of incest and beatings, but it's a child's story. I've been obsessed with it since I was a kid." Dunham previously cited "Catherine, Called Birdy" as one of the two best books she's ever read about young girls in an interview with the New York Times in 2012. (Her other selection was Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita.")
"It's a really interesting examination of sort of like coming of age and what's expected of teenage girls," Dunham said. "I'm going to adapt it and hopefully direct it, I just need to find someone who wants to fund a PG-13 medieval movie."
Dunham plans to produce the film through A Casual Romance, the production company she started with "Girls" executive producer Jenni Konner. According the 28-year-old, "Catherine, Called Birdy" is one of many projects the duo are working on at the moment "that sort of aren't set in the here and now."
"Nothing I've done so far has required any research of any real kind beyond, like, going to a diner," Dunham said, acknowledging how "Catherine, Called Birdy" is not necessarily what some fans have come to expect from her as a writer-director. "So this is a whole other world. But the source material makes me so happy and I'm so excited, because I've been working on 'Girls' [for five years] and I also wrote this book of personal essays. So the idea of engaging with some of these topics that are important to me, which are -- surprise -- women and feminism, but finding a way to kind of look at them through a historical lens is sort of like where feel myself going."
Dunham, who is currently promoting her new book, "Not That Kind of Girl," said she'll connect with Cushman to discuss "Catherine, Called Birdy" during a visit to Seattle next weekend.