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“Flee”, a Danish film about a three-time Oscar-nominated Afghan refugee

Image taken from the film

Whether he wins a golden statuette or not, on March 27 in Hollywood, Flee (“to flee”, in English) has already written its name in the history of the Oscars. Never had a film been nominated simultaneously in the three categories, best animated film, best documentary film and best international film. At the ceremony, the Danish director Jonas Poher Rasmussen will be accompanied by his wife, his two children and his mother (French). The hero of the film, Amin (this is an assumed name), will remain anonymous, as he requested at the start of the project.

Jonas and Amin met as teenagers. “I was 15, he was 16, explains Jonas. One day, he arrived in my village, all alone, from Afghanistan, and he was placed in a foster family. He learned Danish surprisingly quickly. He was always very well dressed. I saw him on the bus every morning to go to school and we became friends. At the time, I was curious to know where it came from and why. But he didn’t want to talk about it and I respected him. »

Twenty-five years later, the two men are still very close. “It was while preparing food for him two days ago that I cut myself,” Jonas said, holding up his bandaged finger. A week before flying to the United States, at the end of February, the director made an appointment, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, in the center of Copenhagen, at the restaurant Les Voyageurs. More than travel, it will be about flight: that of a family trying by all means to escape the violence of war and persecution. The escape of a man too, who has spent most of his life dodging his identity, before she catches up with him.

A long lie for nothing

About fifteen years ago, Jonas proposed to Amin, who had become a respected academic, to interview him about his past. “He told me that he was not ready yet, but that when he was, he would confide in me. » Jonas is one of the first people Amin told he was gay. He was 17 years old. In the summer of 2013, Jonas returns to the charge. It will take another seven years to make the film.

Of Amin’s journey, Jonas knew the false rumours: his whole family would have been killed, he would have walked to Denmark alone, “which makes no sense” acknowledges the director. But that’s the story the teenager told Danish immigration services and he stuck to it for more than two decades. He even recorded all the details in a small black notebook, as the smugglers had delivered them to him, to be sure not to forget.

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