Flee is now playing in Curzon theatres and on Curzon Home Cinema.
Danish director Jonas Pohar Rasmussen’s inspired and stunning documentary opens with an important question, what does home mean to you? It’s a question we will revisit throughout the groundbreaking Flee as we follow the journey of Amin, his brother, sisters and mother as they escape Afghanistan just as the Taliban seized power following Russia’s withdrawal in 1989. But this is far more than your standard documentary; it’s a series of memories played out on screen through outstanding animation that pulls the viewer into Amin’s world, history, and ongoing trauma.
Smuggled into Denmark as a teenager, Amin’s late childhood and teens were defined by his refugee status and his emerging sexuality. His story is a complex, emotional and robust discussion on the need to flee a repressive regime. While at the same time exploring how cultural, political and religious oppression leave a mark that lasts a lifetime no matter the march of time or the security finally found.
FLEE ©CURZON FILM 2022
As the Taliban took over Kabul, Amin’s father was arrested as a potential threat to the state and never seen again. At the same time, his older brother dodged police vans in an attempt to escape forced military service. This new world of fear, repression and hate felt a lifetime away from Amin’s playful childhood, where his sisters would read him stories as he cuddled up to his brother and looked upon his mother with love and awe. But as the net of war and persecution tightened, the family had no choice but to flee to Moscow. But, Moscow offered no peace, security or hope as Russia battled the financial and social collapse of the USSR. Here the family would live in fear, as they hid from public view while corrupt Soviet police demanded payment for silence.
This forced Amin’s family into a corner where the only solution was to go their separate ways, each taking a risk in achieving safety and security. Here we see Amin’s sisters embark on a torturous journey to Sweden. While Amin, his mum and brother attempt a similar trip in an un-seaworthy boat before further separating from each other when their journey fails.
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Told through audio recordings and interviews, while brought to life through stunning animation, music and news footage, Flee has much in common with Persepolis and Waltz with Bashir in its narrative journey and style. Here the animation allows each memory to come to life with stunning clarity, the fear, oppression and hope of Amin’s family alive with emotion and pain. But it’s Flee’s ability to talk to our modern world that makes it so engaging and powerful. After all, this is a world where right-wing western newspapers talk of gunboats in the English Channel and politicians engage in hate-filled rants on closing our borders. Here Flee is not just beautiful, emotional and brave; it’s an urgent conversation on global human rights.
Rasmussen and Amin challenge us all to think about the stories behind the families and individuals who risk their lives in unsafe dingies, trucks or aircraft wheel wells. It asks us to reflect on the western world’s habit of military occupation followed by a series of failed promises once we get bored. But most importantly, It asks us what we would do to protect our family, friends, lovers, or partners and what the word home means to us? For me, home means safety, security, love and opportunity, and are these not fundamental human rights that nobody should be denied?
In a world where right-wing western newspapers talk of gunboats in the English Channel and politicians spout about closing our borders, Flee is not just beautiful, emotional and brave; it’s an urgent conversation on global human rights.