Friday, December 3, 2021

Film: Flee

Flee (c) Final Cut for Real

Film: Flee 
In Cinemas 

Premise: Director Jonas Poher Rasmussen has been friend with Amin in Denmark since middle school when Amin was a foster home, refugee kid from Afghanistan. Now 25 years later, with his career flourishing and plans to marry his partner, Amin confesses a secret to Jonas about his childhood in Kabul that he feels compelled to confront. Since Amin may not even be his real name, it was going to take some creativity for Rasmussen to make a visual documentary about Amin’s story. So, he opted for animation, which is not the first time a documentary has used this medium (the Oscar-nominated “Waltz With Bashir” was about a soldier’s lost memories of the Lebanon War). Rasmussen peppers in actual news clips and footage from the Kabul throughout the movie to tell “Amin’s” story. 

My Take: As I went into this movie with minimal knowledge of what Amin’s secret was, I will also be vague about it here. Unlike the harrowing documentary, “Welcome to Chechnya,” it actually has nothing to do with Amin’s homosexuality, which for the record doesn’t exist in Afghanistan. Amin’s narration gives us a lot of his emotional state-of-mind that no animation can replicate, as he recounts the “flee” of the title. Even though the documentary puts you through the wringer, I wish the “where are they now” info at the end was animated on screen rather than as a written postscript. Still, it’s an amazing film and deserved the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentary it won at Sundance earlier this year. 

VIP: “Amin.” He is our somewhat unreliable narrator (what is he leaving out?) but it’s obvious the strength he mustered to talk about his past is enormous. There’s a very human moment in the movie when Amin stops the story to talk frankly to Rasmussen as a friend and not as his director. Amin (or whatever his real name is) lives in a cruel world, and with this documentary, he is confronting it head-on.

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