The story of an immigrant filmmaker
Agnes was separated from her mother and sisters when she migrated from post war Europe with her father.
Her father was a filmmaker and documents their journey on the ship and their arrival to a transit camp in Western Australia. This story uses the footage captured by her father to tell her tale of migration.
Click here to hear Agnes Karlik talk about the process of making this story.
The ship Anna Salen arrived in Fremantle on the 31st of December 1950, my father and I amongst the 1,522 passengers. We escaped communist Hungary for Vienna, leaving behind my mother and two sisters. But Vienna became dangerous so we decided to migrate to Australia.
We stayed as refugees in a camp in Nordenham while we waited to leave. I worked a as translator in the camp and on the ship. I learnt that many families were also torn apart. For those five weeks the ship was our berth. I slept in a bunk sharing with the many other women. Everyone worked to help out and to find ways to amuse ourselves.
We grouped together around our own languages but everyone ate together and attended English classes. My father made a film of our journey. At Fremantle trains on the wharf took us to the camps. We were sent to Northam. We slept in barracks, divided by Army blankets separating the families and adjusted to camp life in Australia.
We moved on quickly to Perth searching for a place to develop my father’s film. He heard of a lab in Melbourne. The lab Hersh’s Films offered my father a job, so Melbourne became our new home. Migration is a very mixed experience. You can certainly find freedom, peace and a new life but there is pain and sadness leaving so much behind. We were never reunited with my mother and sisters.