‘Flee’: Afghan Refugee Documentary Using Old Radio Techniques
It took 25 years for Amin Nawabi, the subject of Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s hit Sundance documentary “Flee,” to tell his friend about his poignant story. Nawabi fled Afghanistan as a child in the 1980s, eventually ending up in Denmark where he and Rasmussen became classmates in high school, but he had never shared his entire trip – until now.
In the animated film, Nawabi details his childhood life in Kabul, his life as a refugee in Russia and his eventual arrival in Denmark in startling detail. Following a screening of his film by the International Documentary Association in Los Angeles, Rasmussen explained how he was able to paint such a startling picture of events that happened long ago: radio technique that he has. previously employed.
“When you do radio, you don’t have a picture, so we need the subject to paint a picture for you. And in doing so, I asked him to be really descriptive about everything that we went into his memory, ”explained the director. “So, for example, at first, when he’s in his childhood home and his sister is in the garden telling stories about their father, I asked him: What was the garden like? What kind of plants were there? Were there any trees? What did the house look like? What were the colors? All of these things would give us a lot of information for the animators to work with, but it’ll bring it back there as well. It would start to generate memories that he could talk about, and he would relive those things more than just telling them. “
Although Nawabi eventually agreed to tell his story to Rasmussen and implicitly trusted him in the process, he still had to remain anonymous due to some sensitive revelations in the film. Rasmussen is therefore the only public representative in Nawabi’s history – a task he does not take lightly.
“I wish he was here, but it’s just impossible. We of course talked about what I could say and what I couldn’t say. But he’s very open and says as long as I don’t reveal who he is and where they live and stuff, then I have free rein to talk about him. Because it’s a friendship, an old friendship, I think he trusts me to portray him in a way he recognizes himself even outside of the movie.
And because this is such an old and close friendship, the relationship between the men grew even stronger throughout the process of making the film.
“We definitely got closer,” said Rasmussen. “He told me that the fact that he’s always had that secret – you know, having to keep a secret creates a distance with the people around you because you’re always afraid that something will be exposed. So the simple fact that he also trusted me and started trusting the people around him to hear his story, it brought everyone around him closer together.