Sundance Review: “Flee”

Year: 2021


Runtime: 83 minutes


Director/Writer: Jonas Her Rasmussen

By Morgan Roberts

No two immigration stories are ever the same. Sometimes the immigration story for survival differs from the one in reality. In “Flee” (2021), one such story is told. Amin is a refugee from Afghanistan. Since his youth, he has been living in Denmark, fleeing to the country as an unaccompanied minor. His entire family was killed in Afghanistan, and so, he built his life in Denmark. Or, so the government has been told.

See, when Amin arrived in Denmark, he had endured a different but equally harrowing story. In an ongoing conversation with a friend and through animation, Amin’s true story unfolds. Most of Amin’s family is still alive, scattered across Europe. After escaping Afghanistan, he lived in Russia with his family. Slowly, they begin to leave the country, seeking asylum elsewhere. They go to great lengths to seek proper refuge, putting their lives at risk – though they are already at risk – for safety.

A still from Flee by Jonas Poher Rasmussen, an official selection of the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Amin can never go back to Afghanistan. As a gay man, if he is ever deported there, he will likely be killed. Amin not only discusses his story but his continual fears that he will be deported back to Afghanistan, a fear many asylum seekers have. What would be the point in seeking asylum if they were not fleeing something horrible? Amin talks about his struggles to simply survive on top of the struggles of his sexuality.

“Flee” is a truly incredible piece for its honesty. Sure, the animation is used to create anonymity for Amin. The goal of the film is to give an accurate depiction of what asylum seekers face, not turn their worst nightmares into a realty. It also paints a portrait of the struggles faced by those seeking permanent asylum somewhere. You flee your country to somewhere safer, but it still is not safe enough for you to be there. Most people do not understand how often refugees are displaced until they find permanent asylum somewhere. How it must feel to leave your home for fear you will be killed, to then go to a foreign nation ready to exploit and harm you as well.

This documentary is one unlike any other. It shows the great lengths people go to in order to survive and the trauma they endure to escape unspeakable hardships. Acquired by Neon, Patricipan, and Curzon Artificial Eye for distribution, this is certainly a must-see film.

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