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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
Chronicling the sometimes harrowing journey of an Afghan immigrant and the unfathomable adversity that he and his family had to navigate to find a new home, Flee lends a powerful and thought-provoking perspective to the refugee experience through the vivid first person account of its protagonist. This deeply moving and at times suspenseful documentary is rendered on screen with care and consideration.
Written and directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen, the film employs animation to narrate the life story of its protagonist Amin who has been harbouring a secret he finally feels ready to reveal. The use of animation not only allows the director to outline a captivating portrait of the narrator's dark and traumatic past in a sensitive and intimate way but also helps protect his real-world identity by keeping him and his family anonymous. While Rasmussen animates the majority of the film, there are also montages of archival footage interspersed throughout, deftly informing us of the basics of the political chaos that surrounds Amin’s life in both Afghanistan and Russia.
This is a refugee story told with sensitivity and complexity, showing us the hardships Amin experienced but also, importantly, how they shaped him in the years that followed. There is a rhythm to this documentary where it moves between challenging times and moments of satisfying resolution as Amin’s coming-of-age story on his journey to self-discovery is beautifully illustrated and explored.
Flee is a remarkably humanising and complex film, expanding and expounding the kind of true story that is too easily simplified and often overlooked. Rasmussen has created a loving and unsparing tribute to his friend, a brave survivor whose story will stay with audiences for some time. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in the World Cinema Documentary section.