Sydney Film Festival Student Blogger Review: The Last Goldfish - Eliane Beveridge

6 Jul 2017

The Last Goldfish

Eliane Beveridge


“I drew a line when you were born, I made a decision to never look back.” Manfred Goldfish

The Last Goldfish, is set to be, quietly moving, thoughtful and full of love. A daughter’s search through time and across continents to discover her family history. With a wealth of visual material, Su Goldfish’s personal documentary is set to be a touching reminder that our family will always be our home.

Su Goldfish, has used the story of her father’s life as the background to a film that highlights the refugee experience. Like many immigrant parents, Su’s father, Manfred Goldfish sheltered his daughter from the traumas that he experienced in Germany during WW11. Her father’s life before her was a mystery, something he had never disclosed to protect her.

A section of the film is set in Trinidad – the place of Manfred’s refuge and Su’s birth. Archival footage and tropical music recreate themes of island life. A young Su doesn’t recognise race or colour divides and is confused when she suddenly doesn’t fit in, in the place she called home.

A move to Sydney spurs an opportunity for another chance of a home and Su spends her adult years emerging herself in the gay and Jewish communities of Sydney, both elements become important facets of her identity, both elements push her to understand her father’s past. From here she began her research. She creates a family tree and tries to decipher her heritage.

The film seems to carry this sense of freedom, a desire to understand and to uncover even if there are details that can never be clarified.

“I wanted to make a film because I had such a wealth of visual material to work with and I thought it would make a beautiful film.” She said

“I hope that it being personal will help people identify with the issues the film raises around witnessing trauma, secrets in families, father and daughter relationships, ideas of family traditional and non-traditional and refugee rights.”

Her film has attempted to capture a range of different issues relating to human rights and emotions surrounding migration and family. All of these elements are conveyed through the grainy and authentic visuals captured on small cameras and radio mics.

When creating the film, Su didn’t know where the story would take her, this element of surprise is reflected in the low-fi visuals and the clean and clear narration. The emphasis is on the story. It speaks for itself.

Creating this film led to an exploration of identity for Su. Learning about her Jewish heritage as well as her father’s connection to events like Kristallnacht created a narrative for understanding significant WW11 events that she previously hadn’t felt a connection to.

“It just became one part of my identity, one part of who I am. It connected me to other Jewish friends who shared a similar background and it connected me to other immigrant friends who had different yet similar stories of displacement, immigration, forced migration.”

For Su learning about her father’s past, helped her piece together her future.

“It complicated who I am in the world which to me is a good thing. Complicating identity can only lead to acceptance. You are not one identity you are many. When it comes down to it, we are all human with a series of diverse and complex histories.”

This student review was written as part of the School of the Arts and Media course ARTS2126: Reviewing the Arts.