“Flee”: rebuilding your identity one memory at a time

Some events are too painful to be immediately revisited by those who have experienced them. Nevertheless, their memory remains, even buried, even you. It is to free himself from such a burden that the protagonist of the animated documentary Flee agreed to confide in director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, a longtime friend who is unaware of his painful past. The result? A work as poignant as it is bright.

The man in question, who wishes to preserve his anonymity for reasons that will be understood later, is nicknamed Amin in the film. Settled in Denmark where he is preparing to marry his partner, Amin once fled Afghanistan with his mother, brothers and sisters after their father was kidnapped by the mujahedin.

There followed an exile in Russia, then in Europe, among other stages of a path marked by terrible trials on which Amin opens up a little more each day to Rasmussen.

We thus constantly come back to Amin, sitting on a sofa facing the camera, but in animation. Rasmussen asks precise questions, but which leave enough latitude to the interviewee so that he does not feel stuck or stalked.

The artistic bias of animation works admirably well, as it allows Amin to ‘show’, which promotes empathy, while respecting his desire for anonymity (does he really look like the image shown?). We dive into him, with him …

Troubling, Amin’s journey becomes more complex in adolescence by the awareness, within a traditionalist environment, of his homosexuality. In this regard, his first visit to a gay bar gives rise to an extremely moving moment, in part thanks to what occurs just before this pivotal episode (which will see will understand).

Admirable fluidity

Numerous sequences strike the imagination, in particular the one where, in the middle of an illegal crossing on a small overcrowded boat, Amin and his companions in misfortune cross a cruise liner aboard which, overhanging, carefree vacationers observe them. Contrast of concerns, future prospects, lives …

If there are a few passages in real shots, most of the Flee is in animation. An animation that looks initially simple, but which reveals significant technical and chromatic nuances depending on the content of what is evoked by the protagonist. More importantly: the line turns out to be admirably fluid, in phase with Amin’s flow of reminiscences. Amin who rebuilds his identity as he dispels the shadows of the past by finally facing them.

Courageous, the exercise is also very generous, in that Amin does it live. Here again, the decision to resort to animation proves to be judicious, because there is no doubt that the promise of this stylized setting will have helped the principal interested to deliver in all confidence. Unique work, Flee is the celebration of a journey as unique as it is inspiring.

Flee (V.O. s.-t.a.)


Documentary by Jonas Poher Rasmussen. Denmark – Norway – France – Great Britain – United States, 2021, 90 minutes. Indoors.

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