Presenting REFRAME Conversations: Lizzie Thynne on film biography

REFRAME is back*, its website sporting a whole new look, to launch the first of a number of exciting academic publishing projects in this new academic year:      REFRAME Conversations, a series of in-depth explorations of media, film, music and cultural studies research, published and shareable on and offline in video/audio formats.

In the first of these video and audio encounters, Lizzie Thynne, filmmaker, writer and Senior Lecturer in Media and Film at the University of Sussex, discusses her theoretical and practice research into film biography. In REFRAME’s interview, as well as her earlier films Child of Mine (Channel Four Television, 1996) and Playing a Part: The Story of Claude Cahun (2004), and her written research on biographical, subjective and feminist filmmaking, Thynne talks about her recent experimental documentary On the Border (UK, 2013, 56 minutes), a daughter’s exploration of her Finnish family’s history prompted by the letters, objects, and photographs left in her mother’s apartment.

Fragmented memories, dreams, and diary entries are juxtaposed with the director’s journey to significant places and people in that history from during and after the Russo-Finnish wars, 1939 – 1944. Thynne’s mother, Lea, and her siblings were evacuated from the disputed border territory of Karelia. Lea’s father was killed in 1941, fighting alongside the Germans against the Soviets. His death in action is contrasted with the more indirect impact of the war and its aftermath on the destinies of the remaining family. In this hypnotic work of mourning and remembrance, past and present, associations, memory and imagining intertwine, as the film charts the lingering traces of conflict and exile across generations.

On the Border was published, alongside a written research statement by Thynne and peer-review reports on the work, in the peer-reviewed journal SCREENWORKS, Vol. 4, 2013: Thynne’s films for the SISTERHOOD AND AFTER: The Women’s Liberation Oral History Project (British Library/University of Sussex) are online here: Thynne’s chapter ‘The Space Between: Mothers and Daughters in Anne Trister’ first appeared in Tamsin Wilton (ed), Immortal Invisible: Lesbians and the Moving Image  (London: Routledge, 1995). For further details of Thynne’s other films and publications please go to:

For those who’d like to see the film on a big screen, On the Border will be shown later this week at 7pm on Wednesday, October 9, at The Finnish Church, 33 Albion St, London SE16 7JG – free entry courtesy of the Finnish Church in association with the Anglo-Finnish Society. The screening will be followed by a discussion with participants: Lizzie Thynne, Titus Hjelm (UCL, School of Slavonic Studies) and Annette Kuhn (Queen Mary, University of London).

Further REFRAME Conversations will be published shortly. If you are interested in suggesting, making or contributing to a Conversation, please get in touch with REFRAME.

GO TO: REFRAME Conversations: Lizzie Thynne on Film Biography

[* During this relatively quiet summer (on the surface, at least), REFRAME‘s Re.Framing Activism website nonetheless kept up a lively and brilliant bi-weekly publishing schedule.]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.