Lizzie Thynne on Film Biography

LIZZIE THYNNE, filmmaker, writer and Senior Lecturer in Media and Film at the University of Sussex, talks to REFRAME Conversations about her theoretical and practice research into film biography (video above, audio below).

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 and subjective filmmaking, Thynne talks about her recent experimental documentary On the Border (directed by Thynne, 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. Her 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:



©2013 REFRAME (except for film clips from Thynne’s work which are used with her permission in this documentary; other film clips are used, according to understandings of fair dealing or fair use, for scholarly, critical and exemplary purposes only)

First published by REFRAME Conversations on October 7, 2013