Filmed over the last months of her life, this compelling and inspiring portrait of the French feminist thinker and activist Thérèse Clerc celebrates her extraordinary evolution and vital legacy.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
The remarkable Thérèse Clerc evolved from a ‘subdued’ French housewife in the 50s, accepting the role society and upbringing allotted her, to a woman deeply engaged in successive eras of feminist activism. She fought for the legalisation of abortion and came out as a lesbian later in her life, while raising her four children – who all claim to have had ‘a different mother’, depending on what phase of development Thérèse was experiencing at the time. Confronted by the final stages of terminal illness, this indefatigable woman asked director Sébastien Lifshitz (who had filmed her in his 2012 documentary The Invisibles) to accompany her ‘to the end’, to witness that which is so rarely talked about: ageing and death. This graceful and compelling celebration of her many lives, past and present, reminiscences through archival footage and her children’s tales evoked around a kitchen table. In the lingering shots of Thérèse’s lovely face, it offers a tender, unsentimental portrait of a woman, and by way of it, reveals the bonds of friendship and profound respect between filmmaker and subject. — SR
“It is unusual enough to see women of this age celebrated and honoured in any form onscreen, but that The Lives of Thérèse does it in such a heartbreakingly unsentimental manner approaches the transcendent.” — Jessica Kiang, Variety