Lena Dunham considers herself a historian of her own generation. As the creator of the HBO series “Girls,” she became a defining millennial voice, even if her work was always a little tongue-in-cheek. But in her new film, “Catherine Called Birdy,” she turns her attention to actual history. It’s a space where she feels comfortable. “I’m much more someone who’s going to stay at home and read an odd medieval diary by, you know, a milkmaid that was found in a pile of rubble than I am apt to go out to a party in Williamsburg,” Dunham said in a recent phone call.
An adaptation of Karen Cushman’s 1994 Newbery Medal-winning children’s novel, “Birdy” is the story of a rebellious 14-year-old in medieval England (Bella Ramsey from “Game of Thrones”) whose father (Andrew Scott) wants to marry her off to keep their family from slipping into poverty. Birdy does whatever she can to thwart that effort, all the while starting on a tenuous path to emotional maturity. Despite the period setting, it’s material that rings very true to Dunham. In fact, she considers “Birdy” the third part of a trilogy that started with her breakout feature, the semi-autobiographical “Tiny Furniture” in 2010, and continued with “Sharp Stick,” a sexually explicit saga about a 26-year-old virgin that was released earlier this year after debuting at the Sundance Film Festival.