Flee.Credit: Neon

An animated feature, a documentary, and, with English not the principal language spoken, an “international film”, FLEE ticks three boxes in the Oscar nomination categories and delivers a hat trick.

An exquisite animation, FLEE flies above the somewhat mawkish fare that falls under the animation banner. There isn’t a skerrick of Disney cute or ingenuousness.

As a documentary, it’s a devastating testament to the terrors of transit for refugees.

As an “international film” it is told in many languages as it traverses a number of countries before those have fled one land can find eventual succour in another.

FLEE’s focal character is Amin Nawabi, a 36-year-old high-achieving academic, grappling with a painful secret he has kept hidden for 20 years, one that threatens to derail the life he has built for himself and his soon to be husband.

Recounted through animation and stock footage, Amin unloads to director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, his close friend and high-school classmate, who acts not only as a documentarian but as surrogate shrink, a kind of kindred confessor.

Amin tells of his extraordinary journey as a child refugee from Afghanistan, of the terrors and uncertainties of illegal frontier crossings, of the claustrophobia, the contrasting ethics of people smugglers, the various bureaucracies of that engulf refugees.

His mother’s fear of the sea, the family’s fear of separation, and their subsequent impacts are brilliantly brought into focus, as FLEE carves out a narrative of suspense and survival and self sacrifice.

Scrabble the word flee and you get feel, and FLEE is full of feel. FLEE deserves its three Oscar nominations, and deserves more. The fashioning of the narrative using archival footage interwoven into the striking craft of the animated images and the precision of the text qualify director Jonas Poher Rasmussen for nominations in directing and writing categories as well.

The best award is box office reward and audiences will be rewarded for awarding FLEE their time and money.

Running Time: 83 minutes
Rating: M

Watch Official Trailer Here