Oscar Countdown: “Flee” inspires with its heartbreaking story about immigration and sexuality

The documentary from Denmark is nominated for Best Documentary, International Feature, and Animated Feature


Courtesy Neon Pictures

“Flee” is an animated documentary about “Amin,” an Afghani refugee who finally shares the real story about what happened when he fled his homeland.

One of the most unique nominees at this year’s Academy Awards is not even nominated for Best Picture. As the first nominee for Best International Film, Best Animated Feature, and Best Documentary, “Flee” is the story of “Amin Nawabi,” who, for the first time, shares the hidden secret about how he both emotionally and physically fled his past.

The documentary starts off with Jonas Poher Rasmussen, the director, asking Amin how he defines “home.” With reluctant thought, Amin says “it means someplace safe.”

Amin has never felt safe anywhere. He grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan with his mother, two sisters, and his brother. His father who disappeared after being arrested as a threat to the communist government known for killing those whom they deemed non-believers. After several failed attempts by his family to escape Afghanistan and immigrate to Sweden, Amin alone made it to Copenhagen, Denmark.

His safety now relies on a fake identity and a lie to everyone he knows that his family is dead.

It is not until he is about to marry his boyfriend Kasper, that Amin is forced to face his past. Amin could never tell his story because it would put his life in danger in more ways than one. 

In addition to political fears, Amin fears the homophobia of his former home. Back in Afghanistan, he shares there wasn’t even a word for homosexuals. This made his own self-discovery dangerous to himself and his family.

Amin’s story in “Flee” is shown by contrasting animated sequences of bright, colorful scenery and dark, eerie chalk-like drawings. Even though Amin wants to feel safe and enjoy the present with his partner, he still haunted and burdened with his past.

Because Amin’s true identity is ever revealed, it sets the foundation that “Flee” could be anyone’s story.

It’s one of the few movies that leaves you in tears, grateful you never had to experience it; or, like a warm hug, grateful you are not alone.

“Flee” effortlessly tackles multiple issues dealing with immigration, sexuality, acceptance and rejection, and healing.

Only once Amin retells his story with complete honesty, he is able to gather the strength to finally heal after years of hiding and complete silence.

The documentary ends with Amin and Kaspar, now married, embracing as they are moving into their own home. Amin is finally able to stop fleeing from his past and start a new happy future, safe at home.