Trailer: ‘Flee’ Tells the Story of a Young Refugee From Afghanistan

As the trailer for the fascinating new quasi-documentary Flee opens, we see a man being interviewed by someone off camera, who asks “What does home mean to you?” The stark reply comes, “It’s somewhere…safe.”

This is hardly a surprising answer from a person who fled Afghanistan as a child (sometime during the mujahideen-Taliban phase of the country’s 1992 – 2001 Civil War), somehow escaping with his life, and ultimately settling in Denmark. In the film the protagonist, and everyone else, is an animation, a device used apparently to protect his identity – though he is given a fake name as well, Amin Nawabi.

He is also gay, in a settled relationship, and living a fairly normal life in his new Scandinavian home (Copenhagen, to be specific). He admits to the camera to never having revealed to his partner his true life story. But knowing his sexual orientation certainly helps to emphasize the increasing danger he would have faced had he not absconded from the country of his birth.

And when he reminds that, “It takes time to trust people,” it sets up a narrative whose details may be a bit sketchy and unreliable, though really very much on purpose, and to make a point. After all, such is the reality of refugees fleeing fundamentalist persecution of any sort – it’s a life of learning to lie one’s way through perilous situations, just to survive from one day to the next.

Flee, from Danish director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, arrives in theaters December 3 (via NEON), and obviously it will do so having become accidentally and deeply relevant and of-the-moment, as the US finally pulled its troops out of Afghanistan last week, and the country has descended into utter chaos. Joe Biden, unfortunately as stunned as everyone else at the tragic outcome, said in a speech, “We did not go into Afghanistan to nation-build. And it’s the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.”

But we surely know that’s not actually true – America has spent decades nation building in the region. And with the Afghani people – especially women, children and the LGBTQ community – now facing serious threats to their human rights under the Taliban, another refugee crisis surely looms.

That the film won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and was an Official Selection at Cannes, had already made it eminently unmissable. But considering the new sociopolitical context, it will surely be imperative viewing come this autumn.

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