Danish animated documentary FLEE has been collecting quite a few awards and nominations since its premiere in January 2021. And rightly so, it works both as a wonderful animation and a personal, moving documentary of an asylum seeker who finds a way despite being confronted with the worst parts of humanity. Considering the headlines these days, it’s not exactly escapism, but it’s essential viewing for sure.
Not unlike another animated documentary, Waltz with Bashir, FLEE focuses on a main character remembering what happened to him when they were younger. In this case, Amin Nawabi tells his story to his secondary school friend turned film director Jonas Poher Rasmussen. From fleeing Kabul as a child, to dealing with corrupt police men in Moscow, Russia and almost drowning on a boat trying to seek asylum in Europe… It’s a bleak, harrowing tale – especially because his experiences still affect his daily life: focus on financial stability, making his family proud and having difficulties in trusting people fully. And if that wasn’t enough, the documentary also deals with relationships, accepting your sexual identity and is both visually and sonically striking.
All these aspects is what elevates this story into more than just a refugee story for the sake of it. As Mark Kermode wrote for The Guardian: Yet what emerges from this remarkable story is not a tale of victimhood but, rather, a coming-of-age narrative that covers a lifetime.
Go watch it, if you haven’t already.
Image copyright: Flee / Final Cut For Real