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Laramie Movie Scope: Flee

When you have to live like a refugee

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 20, 2021 – When Tom Petty sang “You don't have to live like a refugee” it was a choice. Some people don't have a choice and “Flee” is the story about one family of refugees who were stuck in that terrible life for years.

I pay attention to the news, so I know about the politics of border crossings and civil wars that lead to people without a country, fleeing to anywhere they can find sanctuary. The refugees from Afghanistan are of particular concern to Americans because American guns and money have been fueling conflicts there for decades. The recent ugly pullout of American forces from Afghanistan was as big a disaster as the wars that preceded it.

This movie is about more than politics, however. Unlike the news, and unlike most movies on the subject, this movie gives you an intimate view inside the life of a refugee, as told in a series of interviews and reenactments, mostly shown via animation. The name, and even the face of the refugee, Amin, is fictitious to protect the real refugee's identity.

The film's director, Jonas Poher Rasmussen, met “Amin” in Denmark when they were both teens, so Amin trusts Rasmussen enough to reveal many secrets about himself and his family he has kept for years. Throughout the film, ever deeper layers of secrets are revealed that Amin had told no one about before. This movie very effectively uses animation, voice-overs and historical film footage to reveal the horrors of refugee life.

Amin grew up in Afghanistan under Soviet rule. His father, an airline pilot, was taken away by police, and never heard from again. The police tried to grab Amin's older brothers to force them into military service. They went into hiding, or become refugees, to escape civil war. As Soviet rule came to an end and armed religious extremists threatened to take over the country, Amin, his mother, brothers and sisters were forced to leave Afghanistan. They barely escaped.

The only country that would take them in was Russia, where corrupt policemen stole money from refugees and raped women and girls. In order to escape this Russian hell hole, the family had to raise money to pay human smugglers to get them out. Amin got one of the better smugglers, but ended up in Denmark, instead of Sweden, where he wanted to go.

In order get residency, Amin had to lie about his family and his background, claiming to be the only survivor of rebel attacks that wiped out the rest of his family. During the filming of “Flee,” Amin finally reveals the truth about his family, and how they all suffered and sacrificed to help him escape Afghanistan and Russia.

This film is Amin's coming out party, in more ways than one. It turns out that Amin, as a gay man, might have been killed, had he stayed in Afghanistan, where just about everyone denies homosexuality even exists. There isn't even a word for it in Afghanistan, Amin says in the film. One of the best scenes in the film shows the reaction of a family member to Amin's admission about his true sexuality.

The secrets revealed by Amin after so many years, about the sacrifice, suffering and exile of his family make for a compelling story. One wonders what other secrets Amin may be hiding, because he has very real reasons for keeping secrets and telling lies. Sometimes he has to deceive people to keep himself, and others, safe. For Amin, this is part of his refugee heritage. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2021 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]