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On the border

posted on 2023-06-07, 23:16 authored by Lizzie ThynneLizzie Thynne
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Publication status

  • Published


JMP Screenworks Online - peer reviewed journal vol 4

Department affiliated with

  • Media and Film Publications


The film is a reflexive biography in which Thynne explores her Finnish mother, Lea's, life through the materials that remain from it letters found in her flat, previous video footage, including home movies, her mother's photo collection as well as other official documents which Lea preserved passports, ration cards, baby's weight records, job references. These materials are juxtaposed with memories from other relatives, including Lea's brother and sister, and the director's own journey to significant places in her mother's life. The research aim is, to interrogate conventional biography by both tracing the influences on a life whilst also acknowledging the impossibility of creating a coherent narrative from these traces, which is not marked by the others' desire, loss and projection, especially that of the director. The film avoids a definitive account and instead hints at the familial, social and historical factors, including the war between Finland and Russia and its aftermath, which helped to form Lea's identity and which might have led to her disabling mental states from the age of 42. The fragmented temporal structure highlights the ways in which Thynne's construction of her mother's story is filtered through different layers of memory, associations and imaginings Thynne's, Lea's own and those of other family and friends. Such fragmentation is also intended to suggest how the subject remains inaccessible to the filming process. The film does this by highlighting the distance between image and event, counterpointing words/written or uttered at one time with images which are clearly taken at another time, asking the viewer to interpret what the links might be between these disparate elements. Previous losses are evoked through more recent ones. At the same, time periods of hope, possibility and joy are recalled which suggest a different story, one less conditioned by the many losses suffered within the family.

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