Memories Of The Foreign

How do we remember migration? How do we talk about the experiences, aspirations, and resistance of migrant workers? In the form of a cinematic memorial to his grandmother Fatma Selek, who migrated to Austria from Turkey in 1973, Tolga Karaaslan recounts the personal story of his family’s migration. Memories of the Foreign explores the recollections of being in a foreign country, and at the same time how people were made into foreigners and so-called others. The grandmother’s voiceover in Turkish accompanies the sites of her memories in Wels depicted in grainy black and white shots: residential buildings, a park bench, cars, a soccer field, a school, the gate entrance to a factory building, one company’s facade, and what might be the entrance to his grandparents’ workplace. At the end we see a silhouette of the filmmaker himself in the reflection of the same building.

Fatma Selek tells of her arrival in Austria, her difficult working and living conditions, her loneliness, and her intention to return to Turkey soon thereafter. Karaaslan’s Super8 recordings combine the narrative voice of his grandmother to create collective experiences that are often only hidden in private archives. This is the experience of many so-called guest workers, who were often denied social participation and whose struggles and demands for a better life are rarely part of the public narrative. However, the film turns precisely these personal experiences into a public, political, anti-racist and feminist narrative in which its protagonist occupies the space in order to become the narrator of her own story. So we listen to her voice, her courage, her wishes, her sadness, her loneliness, but also her wish to one day be reunited with her family in one place. The film creates a dignified encounter between past and future, history and memory, and an artistic form of collective storytelling based on solidarity. (Cana Bilir-Meier)

Orig. Title
Memories Of The Foreign
4 min
Tolga Karaaslan
Orig. Language
Tolga Karaaslan
Concept & Realization
Tolga Karaaslan
Fatma Selek
Original Interview
Sevil Kuş
Available Formats
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
DCP 2K flat (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format
Festivals (Selection)
Linz - International Short Film Festival
Wien - VIS Vienna Shorts (Social Responsibility Award (Künstlerische Errungenschaft))
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films