Friday Film Review--"Flee"
“Flee” is an animated documentary which won the Grand Jury Prize in the World Documentary category at the virtual 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Here’s Barb Bretz with this week's Friday Film Review.
“Flee”, directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen and written by Rasmussen along with the subject of the documentary, was set to have its premiere at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival which was canceled due to Covid. Instead. it premiered at Sundance this year.
Writer/director Rasmussen grew up in Denmark. At age 15 he met and befriended a classmate who’d arrived in Denmark, alone, as a refugee from Afghanistan. Although, they’d been good friends, he had never encouraged the boy to tell his story.
Now, as a documentary filmmaker knowing how important and timely it is to tell and retell stories of refugees, he contacted his boyhood friend. It had taken 25 years, but ‘Amin’ (a pseudonym) finally seemed ready to tell his story.
The interview process took on the appearance of an actual therapy session. ‘Amin’ stretched out on a couch, closed his eyes, responded to questions and recalled his experiences. Feeling the need to maintain a level of trust and comfort, they went at a slow and careful pace. They began with three days of interview during which the basics of the story were revealed. Over time, a dozen, more in-depth interviews followed, each going deeper and deeper into the details of ‘Amin’s’ journey and into his pain.
Once they had the chronology of events and experiences, Rasmusen realized that the use of animation would be perfect for this project. It allowed ‘Amin’ to remain anonymous and provided an easy way to recreate a 1980’s Afghanistan and 1990’s Russia.
‘Amin’ and members of his family escaped certain death in their homeland by fleeing and living undocumented in Russia until they found a way to escape into Europe.
We meet ‘Amin’ as an animated character, but his story is full of very real fear, helplessness, loneliness, and pain. In today’s chaotic confusion of refugees longing to be accepted into a safer more tolerant county, there is power and relief for those telling their story and hopefully, understanding and empathy for those listening.
According to Rasmussen, ‘Amin’ feels liberated now. He doesn’t have to constantly be afraid of saying something he’s been hiding all these years. This is a moving story told via a unique medium.
“Flee” is not rated and runs 1 hour and 30 emotional minutes. It will be screened by Park City Film at their Twilight Drive-In at the Utah Olympic Sports Park on Thursday, July 15. See their website for details. This is Barb Bretz with your Friday Film Review. See you at the movies!