Long journey home

INTERVIEW. In his animated documentary 'Flee', Jonas Poher Rasmussen recreates his friend Amin's account of how, at 16, he arrived alone in Denmark as a refugee from Afghanistan. Animation became a powerful means to convey Amin's life story vividly and sensitively, the director explains in our interview. World premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2021.

"The film puts the migrant crisis into perspective. This story took place 25 years ago, and it's basically a success story. Amin is well-educated and well-integrated."

"At the same time, it also provides insight into the severe consequences of being a child refugee and not being able to live with one's past."

Says director Jonas Poher Rasmussen talking about the protagonist in his animated documentary 'Flee', which world premiered on 28 January at the Sundance Film Festival to warm reviews. Amin is the director's close friend from his high school days, who reveals for the first time in the film his traumatic life story and the true circumstances of his journey from Afghanistan and arrival in Denmark 25 years ago.

By using animation, the filmmaker was able to conceal Amin's real identity, but it was also key in helping disclose his friend's emotional baggage, Jonas Poher Rasmussen explains in our interview.

"Animation made it possible for us to be more expressive especially with the dramatic experiences he had on his journey. They're hard to depict with images, but with animation you can make them more emotional."

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'Flee' received the prestigious Cannes Official Selection label in June and made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on 28 January, evoking headlines such as "a thrilling, masterful survival story" (IndieWire).

The film screened as the opening film in the World Cinema Documentary Competition. In the same competition is also Camilla Nielsson's 'President'.

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Jonas Poher Rasmussen has directed the documentary films 'Searching for Bill' (2012), winner of the Nordic competition at CPH:DOX, and 'What He Did' (2015), winner of the critics' Fipresci award at Thessaloniki Film Festival.

'Flee' is produced by Monica Hellström and Signe Byrge Sørensen for Final Cut for Real and co-produced by Charlotte de La Gournerie of Sun Creature (Denmark), Vivement Lundi (France), Most Film (Sweden) and Mer Film (Norway), in collaboration with broadcasters ARTE France and VPRO in Holland.

Backers include the Danish Film Institute, the Swedish Film Institute, the Norwegian Film Institute, Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Copenhagen Film Fund, West Danish Film Fund and the Creative Europe Programme. Cinephil is handling world sales. Domestic release is planned for 29 April 2021.

British actor Riz Ahmed and his Danish colleague Nikolaj Coster-Waldau are set to voice the lead roles as Amin and Jonas Poher Rasmussen, respectively, in an English-language version of the film to debut later this year.