Flee – London Film Festival 2021

Flee – London Film Festival 2021

An intimate and enthralling documentary that makes excellent use of some gorgeous animation to tell this deeply personal story. While centered on Amin’s fight to get to a safe country, it quickly becomes a film about far more than that. Flee is an incredibly moving film.

Until now, Amin has never shared the story of how he left his happy childhood home in Afghanistan to end up alone in Denmark—but keeping secrets from those closest to him, including long-term partner Kasper. He finally reveals all to his long-time friend in in-depth interviews, revealing a journey that will feel all too familiar to people trying to find a safe place to live with their family, away from their own war-torn country.

It would be very simple to just label Flee a documentary about one boy’s journey out of Afghanistan like what has been done there in the synopsis, but Jonas Poher Rasmussen has made something more whole. A story about self-discovery, family, and sexuality. He has been able to juggle several threads and piece them together excellently in his film. In fact, at times, you are in awe at how smoothly he can transition the recordings of Amin’s story to make the narrative that he has here.

Unchained Memories: Jonas Poher Rasmussen's 'Flee' Animates a Turbulent  Refugee Tale | Animation Magazine

Obviously, with the secret revealed by Amin later in the film, Rasmussen had to adjust how we exactly see his story. By providing us with a predominantly animated film, we are able to keep the focus on the story, and actually. This format of storytelling for a documentary is a lot more effective than just having re-enactments. Perhaps it is due to us continually having Amin narrative over what we see. Still, for some reason, by having its animation, it feels less staged, more accurate to the audience.

This mode of storytelling also allows for a bit more expression to come into the film, so when we hear 80’s music or audio with animated versions of Jean Claude van Damme films, we are more at ease with what is being told before us. It also allows the animation to alter demands on the moment and never question the decisions made. Speaking of the animation, it is absolutely beautiful here. The tone of scenes bursts through the screen in such a compelling fashion, whether it be the warmth of happier times or the dullness and coldness of Amin’s time in Russia. So much great work has been done here by the small animation team.

Flee' trailer: Riz Ahmed, Nikolaj Coster-Walsau come together to narrate a  story of an Afghan refugee in Denmark, Entertainment News | wionews.com

Rasmussen needs to be congratulated, not for just his direction here with Flee, but his ability to eke out so much from Amin to give us the story we have. For someone who would be quite reluctant to tell his story, Rasmussen does a marvellous job getting what he does. You feel the more Amin shares, the lighter he sounds, as if having this information pent up for so long has caused him pain, and letting it out is easing it. Even if we were unable to see what we get in the animation, just listening to the story is riveting enough on its own.

Flee is a memorable film that stays with you, and the importance of what is being told in those 90 minutes shouldn’t be forgotten. Not just the story of a refugee, but the fear one has for those close to you and the fears of the unknown—an unmissable film.

★★★★★

For more coverage of the 2021 London Film Festival, have a look below!

Memory Box

Brother’s Keeper

The Taking

Money Has Four Legs

Mothers of the Revolution

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest

Clara Sola

Sediments

Bantú Mama

The Wolf Suit

Language Lessons

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