The Lives of Thérèse
Thérèse Clerc was a famous French feminist activist who, after divorcing her husband, abandoned traditional domestic life and Catholicism. She provided clandestine abortions in the 1960s, opened a center against gender-based violence and, at the end of her life, founded an alternative women-only retirement home.
The Lives of Thérèse by Sébastien Lifshitz (2016)
Featured in Sébastien Lifshitz’s cult film The Invisibles (2012), dedicated to elderly homosexual couples, Thérèse Clerc called Lifshitz in 2016 after receiving a cancer diagnosis, and asked him to film her during her last months of life. The formal sobriety of Les vies de Thérèse makes her radical wisdom all the more vibrant. The screening will be followed by an in-person discussion with director Sébastien Lifshitz and Nora Philippe.
About the Series
“Mauvais Genres: French Cinema Takes on Gender” presents nine fiction films and documentaries that were produced or co-produced in France and have never or rarely been shown in New York. Seven of these are recent films, while the two films that open and close the series are classics. These films take questions of gender identity and sexual orientation head on, through emancipatory explorations and revolutionary projects, often intimately and politically combative, presenting collective portraits and personal biographies as well as character-driven stories.
“Mauvais Genres” is an ironic pun on a French expression that can mean “bad kind,” “bad manners,” or “bad impression,” and can also mean “wrong” or “mistaken” gender. It is also a nod to filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz, whose work is highlighted with three selections in this festival, since he used “Mauvais Genre” in the singular as the title of an exhibition about his work. The heroines and heros of these films defy the identities or destinies of gender or sexual orientation that are assigned to them, whether they’re appearing on self-made clips live streamed on youtube or in a mythological village in the Sahel.
This event is featured as part of the film festival, Mauvais Genres: French Cinema Takes on Gender organized by the Columbia Maison Française and curated by Nora Philippe. Additional support is provided by Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Knapp Family Foundation, Paul LeClerc Centennial Fund, Columbia University Institute for Ideas and Imagination, Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities.