Neon has made the first acquisition out of this year’s Sundance, with North American rights to Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee in what is an undisclosed seven-figure sum after an overnight bidding war.
The film, executive produced by Riz Ahmed and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, was officially selected for Cannes 2020 and made its debut on opening night of Sundance in the World Documentary Competition. Rasmussen directed and co-wrote the movie with Amin Nawabi.
Playing in the world premiere section, Flee follows Nawabi who arrives as an unaccompanied minor in Denmark from Afghanistan. Today, he is a successful academic and is getting married to his long-time boyfriend. A secret he has been hiding for 20 years threatens to ruin the life he has built. Recounted mostly through animation to Rasmussen — his close friend and high-school classmate, he tells for the first time the story of his extraordinary journey as a child refugee from Afghanistan.
Flee is produced by Final Cut for Real, in co-production with animation studio Sun Creature, Denmark, Vivement Lundi!, France, MostFilm, Sweden, and Mer Film, Norway. ARTE France and Vpro, Nederland. The film is supported and produced in association with VICE Studios and RYOT Films and Ahmed’s Left Handed Films.
“So excited to partner up with Neon for the North America distribution, being such an innovative and bold company we feel they can secure a broad distribution across the US,” said Monica Hellström & Signe Byrge Sørensen of Final Cut for Real in statement.
“Very excited to work with groundbreaking distributors Neon on getting Flee out. Their roster of titles include a vast amount of my favorite films from the last couple of years and I’m extremely proud to now include my own work on that list, said Rasmussen
Executive Producer Riz Ahmed said “I was floored by the emotional impact of Flee. This is a unique project that pushes forward our ideas of what documentary, animation, and refugee-centred narratives can be. I’m proud to help bring this project to life for English speaking audiences,”
Exec Producer Coster-Waldau also remarked, “When I watched Flee I was blown away by the power of a story told in a simple way. Flee is a story of extreme perseverance and hope where all hope seems lost. By using animation director Jonas Poher Rasmussen captures the intensity of one refugee’s unbelievable journey from the streets of Kabul to the Danish suburbia. Because Amin is able to tell his story hidden behind his animated avatar it feels so much more revealing and honest than had it been a standard filmed interview. I am incredibly proud to be a part of Flee and will encourage everyone to experience this gem of a film.”
Pic is edited by Janus Billeskov Jansen whose notable works include the Oscar-nominated The Hunt (2013), Joshua Oppenheimer’s Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing (2012), Yance Ford’s Oscar-nominated Strong Island (2017), and Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round (2020) the Danish entry for the 93rd Academy Awards.
Flee is produced by Monica Hellström (The Distant Barking of Dogs) and two-time Oscar nominee Signe Byrge Sørensen (The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence), for Final Cut for Real (Denmark). Art Director Jess Nicholls, Animation Director Kenneth Ladekjær and Animation producer Charlotte De La Gournerie for Sun Creature Studio. Co-Produced by Jean-François Le Corre, Mathieu Courtois for Vivement Lundi !, France, Charlotte Most for MostFilm, Sweden & Maria Ekerhovd for Mer Film, Norway. Natalie Farrey, Jannat Gargi, and Danny Gabai executive produce for VICE Studios. Philippa Kowarsky is Executive Producer for Cinephil. While Hayley Pappas and Matt Ippolito executive produce for RYOT Films.
Jeff Deutchman negotiated the deal for NEON with 30WEST and Philippa Kowarsky of Cinephil on behalf of the filmmakers. International sales are being handled by Cinephil.
Ramussen is a Danish/French film director born in 1981. He debuted in 2006 with the acclaimed TV documentary Something About Halfdan, followed by a series of radio documentaries from around the world. He graduated from the Danish film school Super16 in 2010. His feature film debut Searching for Bill, a mix of documentary and fiction, won him the Nordic Dox award at CPH:DOX, and the international competition prize at DocAviv. In November 2015 he premiered his latest documentary What He Did, which won the Fipresci (Int. Federation of Film Critics) at Thessaloniki Film Fest. 2016.
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