Lizzie Thynne was born in London where she grew up in suburbia. She originally studied in English and Related Literature at York University, where her extra-curricular dramas included an appearance as ‘Madame’ in her own production of Genet’s The Maids. Theatre was her first love. She spent a year living in Florence, teaching English language and travelled between the UK and Italy for a few years. She did an MA and PhD research in English Renaissance Literature at Sussex University. Her entry into film was as Education Officer at the Tyneside Cinema in 1988 where she devised courses and events around the cinema programme, including for the first UK Lesbian and Gay Film festival. After studying study film and television production as a post-graduate at Bristol (1990 – 91), she worked on both factual and drama projects for television. She began making her own films, After the Revolution (1994). and Child of Mine (1996), for Channel Four’s ground-breaking series Out on Tuesday and Out. Since then her work has often focused on how personal narratives are connected to wider political, social and legal changes.
Her documentary On the Border was completed in 2012. It is a daughter’s exploration of her Finnish family’s history prompted by the letters, objects, and photographs left in her mother’s apartment.
In 2011 – 13 she produced 10 shorts about women involved in the Women’s Liberation Movement for the major life story project, Sisterhood and After, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. These will be archived with the oral histories at the British Library, project partner along with the Women’s Library.
Claude Cahun the enigmatic surrealist photographer (1894 – 1954) has been a passion for some years; Lizzie completed the film Playing a Part: the story of Claude Cahun in 2005 with the help of an AHRC Research Grant and Jersey Arts. Playing a Part has been shown at numerous festivals and events. It accompanied a major exhibition of Cahun’s work which started at the Jeu de Paume, Paris and toured to La Virreina Centre De L’Imatge, Barcelona in 2011- 2012.
Lizzie has written several articles on Cahun and her lifelong lover and collaborator, Marcel Moore (Suzanne Malherbe), exploring their play with gender and identity. ‘Indirect Action: Politics and the Subversion of Identity in Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore’s Resistance to the Occupation of Jersey’ traces the connections between the artists’ inter-war involvement in debates about revolutionary art and their ingenious counter-propaganda campaign against the Nazis (1940 – 45).
She was commissioned with the composer, Ed Hughes. to make Brighton Symphony of a City, for the 50th edition of the Brighton Festival. The film is a kaleidoscopic portrait of her home town past and present in all its campaigning and bohemian glory.
She combines teaching, writing and film-making with a particular emphasis on exploring gender, sexuality, identity and representation in documentary and other media forms.
Lizzie is Reader in Film at the University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, where she runs the MA in Digital Documentary and supervises PhDs, including by media practice. She is on the editorial board of Reframe, the Journal of Media Practice and Screenworks and was a member of the editorial collective of Feminist Review (2008 – 11). She is a member of the Family Ties Network.
Listen to Catherine Grant’s interview with Lizzie for Re-frame (2013)