a young homosexual’s escape from Afghanistan is recounted in a stunning animated documentary

This is a true story. That of Amin, a young Afghan homosexual who had to flee his country for Denmark at the end of the 80s. In the animated documentary flee (flight in French) directed by his childhood friend, the Franco-Danish Jonas Poher Rasmussen, the man revealed for the first time his dangerous run for freedom. Selected at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, the feature film examines the refugee’s past and analyzes the extraordinary consequences of exile on his childhood and his relationships.

With brown hair, a three-day beard and a mole on his chin, Amin can be seen pulled into a lying position on a carpet with oriental motifs. Like a classic documentary, he is about to answer the questions of his friend and director Jonas Poher Rasmussen. A slate in the cinema claps at the beginning of the take and the man begins by recounting in Danish, in a slow and articulate pace, one of his childhood memories in Kabul. The testimony is true, the very voice is the young Afghan, taken from the recordings obtained by the director during the interviews conducted together.

“I use the interview technique I’ve used for years, explained Rasmussen in a press release presenting the film. Respondents lie down and close their eyes, remembering how things look, smell and feel, so that their memories are strong and immediate, as if revealing the present.” Impression that he transposed on the screen. From the first words spoken by Amin, the notes of Take me sang A-ha echoed. They take the viewer into a world similar to the images in the music video created by the Norwegian new wave band.

Long and Short

Back to 1985. On a beige background as if painted in watercolor, silhouettes drawn with large black lines follow each other in a jerky manner. A small boy takes shape, wearing a pink walkman helmet over his ears. Amin describes those early years in the Afghan capital surrounded by his brothers and sisters. There is no father. He has been missing since the withdrawal of Russian troops in 1979. The corrupted sequences are interspersed with archive images: television news, but also videos from the time. Beyond the young man’s personal life, the documentary deals with the country’s troubled history.

“I’m not trying to make a political film, noticed Jonas Poher Rasmussen. I want to tell the story of a friend, a universal story of someone finding his place. But my perspective improved, because his story put a human face on an experience lived by millions of people. His story shines a light on the current state of the country, under the yoke of the Taliban since 2021. Amin’s exile began in Moscow, the only country that issues visas – only tourists – to Afghans. There, the family is cloistered in a small apartment, condemned to watch telenovelas repeated, waiting for a regularization that will never come.

You have to be careful not to be found by the brutal and corrupt Russian police. Amin described failed escape attempts due to dirty smugglers and inhumane travel conditions. Before his arrival in Denmark, the last smuggler, paid a lot, gave him advice: never reveal his identity or his story, condemning him to never be fully himself. With this documentary, “Amin wants to turn the page of his past by facing it – because the trauma associated with his childhood creates a distance from all the people in his life”Jonas Poher Rasmussen commented.

In particular her husband met in Denmark, Kasper. “Amin told me at the age of 17 that he was gay and that it had always been a part of him”, remembers the filmmaker. When he was a child, Amin’s colorful bedroom displayed a poster of Jean Claude Van Damme. He looked at her. “I dream of him”, he laughs in the documentary. “He also told me about the difficulty of hiding his sexual identity in Afghanistan”, point Jonas Poher Rasmussen.

Long and Short

Today, Amin and her husband live happily in Denmark. A balance that required years of work for someone who felt indebted to his family for allowing him to leave Moscow alone and paying for his trip. To pay tribute to them, Amin studied the four corners of the world non-stop, without (re)resting. At the end of the documentary, she and Kasper move into a nice house. “Home”a term defined by the refugee at the start of the film: “a place where I feel safe, where I can stay and that I don’t have to leave.” A symbol.

Animation Documentary Poster,

gender : Animation documentary
Writer: Jonas Poher Rasmussen
Duration :
1h23
Distributor:
Long and Short
exit:
August 31, 2022

Synopsis: For the first time, Amin, 36, a young homosexual Afghan refugee, agrees to tell his story. Lying with his eyes closed on a table covered with an oriental cloth, he returns to his past, between the radiant innocence of his childhood in Kabul in the 1980s and the trauma of his family’s flight at the time in the civil war, before taking power. .of the Taliban. After years of hiding in Russia, Amin – a pseudonym – arrived alone at 16 in Denmark, where he met the director who became his friend. In the course of his story and buried pain, the emotion returned. Now a brilliant academic living with his Danish colleague Kasper, the young man confesses a secret he has been hiding for twenty years.

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