Playing a Part  explores the life and work of Claude Cahun (1894 –1954), one of the greatest, yet almost forgotten, 20th century photographers with movement sequences devised by choreographer Lea Anderson.

Cahun collaborated with her life-long lover and stepsister, Marcel Moore, to produce an astounding series of images of herself from her teens to her death that defy a fixed gender and identity. Influenced by Oscar Wilde, the pair were part of the vibrant artistic life of interwar Paris. Posing as a treacherous German soldier, the women carried out an ingenious counter-propaganda campaign against the Nazi Occupation of Jersey, where they had moved in 1937, until their arrest and condemnation to death. Combining rarely seen war archive and contemporary footage, the film mimics the photographer’s own surreal style.

Key critics, including David Bate, Mary Ann Caws and Elisabeth Lebovici highlight her significance to modern art and personal acquaintances recount memories of this remarkable couple.

Featuring Anna Pons Carrera as Claude Cahun and Mary Herbert as Marcel Moore.

Produced and directed by Lizzie Thynne

Director of Photography: Melissa Byers  Editor: Phil Reynolds  Research Assistant: Louis Bailey  Art director/Stills photographer: Jess Hooks  UK 2005

Black and white/colour 45 minutes   Video aspect ratio: 16:9   In English with French subtitles.  Supported byplaying a part

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Playing a Part has accompanied major exhibitions of the artist’s work including at the Jeu de Paume, as well as being screened at numerous film festivals and events in the UK and internationally.

Comments and Reviews   Selected screenings    Press release (PDF)

Read this page in French

Surrealist Picnic II is a short film made by Lizzie alongside Playing a Part. It re-imagines Lee Miller’s famous photograph of surrealists on vacation, Picnic at Mougins, 1937 to imagine what might have happened if Claude Cahun had been present.