Saying that forced migration is tough is a sore understatement.
After refugees finally find a place to settle down, they are faced with language and cultural barriers, limited access to career opportunities and education, ostracisation from the host community and psychological trauma that haunts them from their devastating refugee experience.
Flee adopts an unorthodox approach for a documentary by straying away from live-action and embracing animation as its dominant medium.
The woeful true story unveiled
Trauma is a scar that lives on far beyond the traumatic incident, a phenomenon that impacts an individual’s very sense of self.
By exploring and addressing trauma, Flee – a film seething with poignant candour and vivid firsthand recollections – deviates from the usual nonfiction pieces that approach this topic in a seemingly more objective manner.
The entire film features a therapy session between the subject, Amin Nawabi (an alias to protect his real identity) and the filmmaker-cum-producer (a longtime friend of Amin’s), alongside animated bits of his recaps and interspersed montages of archival footage detailing the journey Amin took to reach where he is today in Denmark, with his partner, Kasper.
The film takes viewers back to Amin’s childhood in the 1980s at Kabul, Afghanistan, right before the civil war period and the American-backed mujahideen forced his family to escape their home and undergo a chain of dehumanising events.
The following years are recounted scene by scene – his home being taken away, the almost unending fear of ‘non-existence’, nerve-wrecking experiences with corrupted Russian police officers, frantic struggles of trying to smuggle his family members to Europe, concealing his then developing sexuality as a gay teen and the terrifying consequences of ‘coming out’.
It’s a mix of desolation, anger and momentary periods of bliss as Amin constantly wrestles with fate to create a safe space for himself.
The film attempts to portray Amin’s suppression as an immigrant and a homosexual.
This fragile sense of identity is further challenged as he constantly fights to discern between his past and reality, amidst the immediate need to survive in a foreign land.
Flee premiered in Sundance’s World Cinema Documentary competition on 28th January 2021 and has since been acquired by Oscar-winning studio, Neon, at an estimated $1 million.
While it’s not available for release yet, it’s definitely a film to look out for.
Get a glimpse of Flee here:
Animation as a stylistic
The unusual stylistic choice to deliver this story via an animated documentary is meant to make the viewing experience feel foreign and disorienting, which mirrors Amin’s refugee experience.
This decision to use 2D animation also allows the film to portray Amin’s experience of trauma because flashbacks are presented in two distinctive art styles. The majority of Amin’s memories are fleshed out in clean lines and rich, vivid colours. In contrast, traumatic memories are depicted in rough lines and muted black and white.
This juxtaposition reveals the psychological impact on the trauma victim’s memory as well as their experience of trauma.
Thus, this approach has allowed the film to give viewers a certain extent of access into Amin’s experience as the visuals help to express the visceral.
Tell your brand’s story with animation
Animation allows you to make stylistic choices that are otherwise difficult or impossible to achieve in live action – this means that it’ll be easier to fully capture the essence of your brand story.
Motion graphics and visual effects, 2D/3D animation, augmented or virtual reality – name it and we’ll deliver.
Get in touch with us and we’ll advise you on the medium that’ll suit your brand goals most at an animated video production cost that fits your budget.
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