Early in the new animated documentary “Flee,” Danish director Jonas Poher Rasmussen asks his friend Amin to close his eyes and take a deep breath.
From there, Amin starts talking about his childhood in Kabul, a life that was disrupted by Soviet troops’ occupation and then withdrawal. After Amin's father was arrested, Amin's mother packed up with her children and escaped to Moscow. But that was hardly a safe haven, and the family took great risks as they struggled to get to Europe.
Eventually, at 15, Amin ended up alone in a small Danish town. That’s when he met Rasmussen, and the two have been friends ever since.
“Flee” tells Amin's story through long interviews overlaid with stirring animation that changes in style depending on Amin's emotional state.
Before “Flee,” Amin had never told his story to anyone — not even his partner Kaspar. When he finally agreed to share it with Rasmussen, he wanted to remain anonymous. Rasmussen handled that and other challenges of telling the story of Amin's journey through animation, which was a new medium for him.
Rasmussen tells KCRW about his years-long journey to document his friend’s incredible story. And explains how he hopes “Flee” can change some hearts and minds on the current refugee crisis in Europe.
“Flee” is Denmark's submission to compete for Best International Film at the Oscars this year. It could also get nominated for Best Documentary and Best Animated Film.