Stunning Oscar-nominated movie 'Flee' narrates the harrowing tale of an Afghan gay refugee

Flee is the extraordinary story of repressed memories from Amin, a gay refugee who fled the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

Still from the film 'Flee': two animated men are in conversation, one with his back to the camera, another facing him, sitting on a window ledge

This review contains spoilers.

Flee is the Oscar-nominated film about Amin and his journey from one city, Kabul, to another, Copenhagen. It is 1996 and, as the Taliban forces their way into the capital and takes control, people start to leave. Amin’s family is one of them, but it seems only to be the start of his journey of terror.

Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s documentary is an animated feature interspersed with real footage of Afghani refugees and victims. There is blood, fire, and dead bodies. But most horrifically is the footage of a man dying, fleeing as he helplessly holds a bleeding wound; it is something I can’t unsee and neither, I assume, can the protagonist of this fantastic film.


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Amin’s harrowing story contains the tragedies of his father, mother, sisters, and brothers, told from the point of view of a little gay boy who is loved by his family. His gayness is part of his struggle, like anyone else who is queer. Along the way, he indulges us with his childhood crushes, one being the sweaty and muscled Jean Claude Van Damme. He could crush your head and your heart, so it seems.

We see Amin lie down and close his eyes to recount the trauma of fleeing. It seems to be his only way of remembering without causing significant harm. This physical way of retelling takes a physical hold on me too. I forget to breathe as Amin describes his passage from Estonia to Russia. This narrative of escaping from one hellhole to another reminds me of the phrase: jumping from the fire into the frying pan. Except here the fire is hotter than hell and the frying pan has torture devices.


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The road to safety is one identified as the road to a new home. What does home mean? And where can one find their home? Two questions appear throughout the film as adult Amin and his partner Kasper plan to move in together. Home is a place of safety and it is not something to be taken for granted.

The story of this young gay man escaping persecution deeply affected my conscience (as well as my stomach). Amin was lucky to escape.  He left persecution and found a safer life. He finds love with a man and a home in Copenhagen.

It’s a beautiful and tragic story. His transportation from fear to security involving scarring conditions leaves an imprint on you, an imprint that the news stories of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean should but probably don’t anymore.


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Go see Flee in a cinema. Support the arts, especially when they tell stories like this.

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