This remarkable animated documentary has been nominated for Academy Awards in three separate categories: best animated feature, best documentary and best international feature.
Flee tells the poignant true story of Amin, a 30-ish refugee from Afghanistan whose life as a successful academic in Denmark has been blighted by the shadows of his past.
He and his partner Kaspar are planning to buy a house together but he cannot seem to settle.
Director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, a documentary film maker and a Danish school friend of Amin, convinces him to finally open up about the secrets and guilt which haunt him.
Rasmussen uses animation to protect Amin’s real identity, building the film as a series of interviews with flashbacks to his past.
It’s almost as if Amin is on a psychiatrist’s couch as he painfully strips away his protective shell.
“Some things are painful to talk about,” he admits.
We see him enjoying a happy childhood in Kabul until his father is suddenly taken away by government agents.
With his mother and older brothers and sisters he flees to Moscow, where they spend a dozen miserable years as refugees.
Asked what home means to him, Amin responds, “ It’s some place safe.”
He will never forget the debt he owes his eldest brother Saif, who has escaped to Sweden and struggles to scrape up the funds to pay people-smugglers to bring across the rest of the family.
They endure horrific voyages – in the dark hold of a container ship, buffeted by wild storms, hidden below deck in a boat overcrowded with desperate refugees, sent back to try again.
Eventually Saif pays more expensive smugglers to fly out the teenage Amin to Sweden. He is given a fake passport and ordered to memorise the details of his new identity and forget his family and his past.
Amin is shocked to find himself in Denmark, alone, instead of with his brother in Sweden.
Even as he builds a new life for himself, he is haunted by guilt – for the debt he owes his brother, for his lost identity, for his difficulty in trusting anyone.
Rasmussen’s film is a searing reminder of the trauma endured by so many refugees. By using animation he is able to depict Amin’s harrowing story in a way which would be otherwise impossible.
This deeply moving film is accompanied by a lyrical score by Uno Helmersson.
Flee, part of the Lotterywest film festival, is now showing at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium until Sunday, March 13.
Watch there trailer…