filmmaker & writer

On the Border

Lizzie Thynne, UK, 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 and Lea’s father was killed in 1941, fighting alongside the Germans against the Soviets. The story of her father’s death in action is contrasted with the more indirect impact of the war and its aftermath on the destinies of Lea, her mother and siblings. Lea began to see and hear things from age 42.

Thynne searches for the causes of her mother’s breakdown as well as acknowledging that she can only understand her family’s past through her own experience and imagination. 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.

The film is available through JMP Screenworks vol 4

where it appears with a research statement.

‘…enables the spectator to ponder the difficulties of representing subjective memories, offering a rich and original insight into the nature of displacement and exile in the aftermath of war and its lasting effects on a single family’

‘…a remarkable film, deeply moving and historically important…visually arresting in its use of subtly charged images from the distant and more recent past of her own family in Finland’
– Jackie Kyte

The Ethics of Storytelling, Turku Finland, 4-6 June 2015; Home Fronts: Gender, War and Conflict, University of Worcester, 6 September 2014; Birkbeck Cinema, Birkbeck School of Arts, London, 25 July 2014; Crossroads, Tampere, 1 July 2014; The Finnish Church, 33 Albion St, London, Greater London SE16 7JG – in association with the Anglo-Finnish Society; The Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts; ‘Grievings’, International Conference of the Institute of English Cultures and Literatures, University of Silesia in Katowice, Ustron, Poland; ‘Methods Lab’, Goldsmiths College, London, ‘Tracing Ancestral Homelands: Family, Landscape and Memory’, Richmond American International University, London; ‘Private and Public Memories’, international symposium of the Finnish Oral History Network, Helsinki.