International Film Festival kicks off with ‘Flee’

The International Film Festival, hosted by professor Sam David Boyd, began last week with the animated documentary “Flee.” The festival will continue in Herrick Hall through March 19.

The 2024 International Film Festival at VTSU Castleton started off with the wonderful animation film “Flee.” 

This film is about the story Amin Nawabi was never able to tell before. He details his journey fleeing from Afghanistan to Denmark. Amin did around 15 hours of interviewing to make sure they got every piece of the story that they could. As it had been years since it happened, it was very hard for Amin to remember and talk about. 

Jonas Poher Rassmussen directed this film, though Kenneth Ladekjaer did the animation. Everything was so detailed that it took them eight years and $4 million dollars to make this film, which was released in 2021. They hand drew the whole film digitally and they put so much detail in it to match what Amin said it was like you were really there.

You could tell the whole audience at the international film festival felt the same way. As certain scenes came on, you would hear a big gasp, or laugh come from the crowd. Most of the time it was unanimous, you could tell that everyone was perceiving the same message at that time. Looking around, you saw people on the edge of their seats waiting to see what would happen next. It’s a very hard film to watch but definitely worth it as it shows us what refugees had to go through, what Amin and his family had to go through. 

Sam Davis-Boyd, the professor in charge of the festival, also thought it was a hard film to watch. 

“I think that the animation is absolutely beautiful, and the types of animation that they used throughout enhanced it. The story is hard to watch as it is very heroic, but I think it is an important story to tell, especially with our current climate. I think what I kind of talked about at the beginning I think, again this idea of the director and the producers wanted to get across is that refugees are people. We see all of these things in the news and on social media talking about refugees and it’s like this vague concept or idea. Like these are real people, and I think they really wanted us to empathize with Amin in this case. But refugees as people,” she said. 

Even though this was a hard film to watch, it did have a powerful meaning and Davis-Boyd had been wanting to screen it for a while. 

“It was the first time I screened this film and I really wanted to screen it last year, but it didn’t work out, so I’m so excited to finally screen it. I love it. I was trying to figure out when to show this film. Do I show it first, or do I show it last, as it is such an amazing film,” she said. 

“Flee” has won many awards in the past couple of years. 

“One of the larger ones it won was the top grand jury prize for World Cinema in the documentary category, which is huge,” she said. 

Soundings students like Alan Baird, said they enjoyed the film too. 

Baird chose to go to this film as his third required Soundings event. He said he just wanted to get it out of the way, but he was glad he chose this film. 

“It ties into our immigration discussion in my Connections class,” he said. 

He said he was not sure if it was a coincidence or if it was meant to be like that, but he appreciated it a lot as it helped him with schoolwork. 

“I enjoyed it and would call it good. It was a little slow but good,” he said. 

He said he was expecting it to be another event he just had to go to and was not expecting the great quality of the film. 

“I was not expecting an animated documentary that’s for sure,” he said. 

He goes to talk about his favorite part of the film. 

“When the brother gave his money and said have fun in front of the club, just funny,” he said. 

Another student, Kendra Smith, also found this to be one of her favorite parts of the film.

Smith found it funny, but also wholesome. 

“The whole time he thought his family was going to be against him, and in the end they were not. It was just really heart-warming, especially after everything Amin had been through. You could tell he was really scared to tell them,” she said. 

Smith is not a Soundings student, but heard about the film and wanted to go. 

“I heard about it through my friends that were going for Soundings, and it sounded really interesting, so I went. I’m glad I did as it was an amazing film,” she said. 

Smith knew it was an animation film having watched the trailer, but she was not expecting it to go into such detail. 

“There was so much detail in the animation it was stunning! I was not expecting it. It felt like I was really there in the moment with Amin. It felt like I could feel his emotions as well as some of the other characters’ motions,” Smith said, adding that she hopes to attend other films in the festival too! 

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