Written by Danica Van der Merwe

FLEE was the first movie of 3 LUX film nominees that will be screened at the Press Club Brussels Europe. The following films will be screened on the 13th and the 20th of May. On the 29th of April, journalists, actors, politicians and activists gathered to watch the Danish film about a man and his journey of fleeing Afghanistan and ending up in Denmark. Also in attendance were Adil Izemrane, co-founder of Movement On The Ground, Mahmoud Alsheikh Ibrahim, and EURACTIV Journalist Natasha Foote, who shared their opinions and experiences during the post-film debate. Around 40 people gathered together to watch the movie which communicated a number of important, relevant topics. The AEJ Belgium supported the event and will continue their support for the next two films. 

Before the film started, the attendees enjoyed in-person conversations over drinks and Ukrainian finger foods from Odesa. The Press Club is chairing the global association of Press Clubs and recently had an event with the Kyiv Press Club. Once seated, FLEE captured the audience’s attention and the next two hours were spent following a young boy out of Afghanistan, into Moscow. The journey continues of a now teenage boy pushed back in a boat full of refugees back to Russia and once again on a dangerous journey with the (paid) assistance of smugglers. The adult man tells his story of how he had to lie about his family being alive, and how this lie and the fear of being sent back have kept him from making any real connections. 

The audience is taken on a journey of war, smuggling and broken families; difficulty in accepting oneself and the pressure of fitting into a new country and adopting a new culture. It is the journey of millions of refugees. No, rather it is the story of millions of people forced to flee their country. This is how Adil Izemrane said to refer to them, to remove them from the numbers and statistics game and see them as people.  

Nathasa agrees by saying we need to “remember the individuals behind [the stories]. The human level often gets lost in policy debates.” 

FLEE brought the audience face to face with a family who was forced to leave its home and a man who had to leave behind everything and everyone he knew and loved. The film uses powerful imagery which alternates between the animation of Amin telling his story on camera and real footage from Afghanistan when the war broke out. 

The animation brings the speaker face-to-face with the audience, with many shots showing Amin lying on the mat with his eyes closed, telling his story. The use of the animation also follows the emotions of different parts of the film, portraying the specifically traumatic moments as hurried scribbles, as if all Amin could remember was the feeling of chaos and not specific details or colours. It takes the audience on a visual journey, allowing a glimpse into the many terrains, colours and emotions of people forced to flee their countries. There is an initial sense of it being a fairytale story, with colourful drawn kites flying in the air and children playing. The animation is broken for the first time with actual footage of war and airplanes and chaos. It disrupts the audience’s sense of peace and brings to life the reality of suddenly having everything change in a moment. There is also the sense that the animation brings the human side forward, while as usual the live footage only shows the explosions and chaos. The audience sees Amin as a child, a teenager and finally an adult through the animations. Ironically, the ‘real’ footage doesn’t show a lot of the real struggle of people in these situations. It is a true story and brings a new meaning to the word ‘documentary’. 

The next movie is Great Freedom and will be screened on the 13th of May, also at the Press Club Brussels Europe. The following week the last movie, Quo Vadis, Aida?, will be screened as well. Once all the films have been screened, it will be up to the people to pick their favourite. By going to this link, one can vote and stand a chance to win an invitation to be a guest in Strasbourg on the 8th of June when the winner will be announced. The voting will be open until the 25th of May. Art is an essential tool to speak about important topics and we are honoured to be a part of something like this. 

Wytze VanderGaast, Mahmoud Alsheikh Ibrahim, Pierre-Yves Voisin, Natasha Foote, Adil Izemrane and Quentin Ariès

To register for the next screening at the Press Club Brussels Europe, go to the link and book your spot!