It's easy for filmmakers to make fun of Catholic school. That’s why writer and director Greta Gerwig decided to do something very different.

Gerwig has said that her film Lady Bird may be the only cinematic love letter to Catholic education. It’s the story about a year in the life of high school senior Christine (Lady Bird) McPherson, documenting her triumphs and travails as she goes to class, applies to college, and fights and makes up with the people she loves.

The film has already received a slew of awards, including several Oscar nominations for writing, acting, directing, and best picture.

Gerwig is not Catholic, but she attended St. Francis Catholic high school in Sacramento, California, which served as the inspiration for Lady Bird’s all-girls school, Immaculate Heart (nicknamed by students Immaculate Fart).

Gerwig said she loved her Catholic school experience, especially the teachers, both religious and lay people, who showed such care for their students. “There were priests and nuns who were just compassionate and funny and empathetic and thoughtful, and they really engaged with the students as people, not figureheads,” Gerwig said in an interview with Religion News Service.

While a love letter, the film offers subtle critiques of Catholic school. Dialogue around the LGBT community was stifled in the Catholic community in 2002, the year in which the movie is set. In one scene, Lady Bird finds herself holding her former boyfriend, Danny, as he sobs, begging her not to tell anyone he’s gay. Gerwig said she doesn’t remember anyone who was openly gay in her school. “You couldn’t be. You would be beaten up, or worse,” she said. “Thank God that’s changed.”

Read the full article about Greta Gerwig's homage to Catholic school by Kate Stringer at The 74.