‘Flee’ Humanizes the Trauma of Escape and Survival Like We’ve Never Seen Before

The Oscar-nominated animated documentary tells the harrowing real-life story of Amin Nawabi, forced to escape from Kabul, Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Snigdha Sur

March 25, 2022

‘Flee’ Humanizes the Trauma of Escape and Survival Like We’ve Never Seen Before
Still from 'Flee'

In the opening scenes of Flee, Amin Nawabi is sitting for an interview and the cameraperson needs to reposition him. A bit up. A bit below. That’s just right. The choice to reenact these details when the film can choose to cut straight to introducing us to Amin is a telling one: when we do hear stories of escape, they’re often self-edited or smoothed out, the worst or mundane details often left out. But in Flee, the masterful Danish animated documentary from director Jonas Poher Rasmussen and executive produced by Riz Ahmed and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones), some of the horror lies in these very seemingly humdrum details.

We find out that Amin — names changed to protect their identities, as the film tells us — is at a precipice. He is about to get married to his long-time partner, but he hasn’t told part of his story to anyone. He wants to come clean, to reveal all, because he knows there’s much he still hides. What his partner knows is that Amin had left Kabul in the 1980s, immigrated to Denmark, and his siblings and parents had died. But not all is what it appears. And the truth contains even more heartbreak and tragedy.