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Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee crowned with the 2021 Nordic Council Film Prize

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- Denmark’s Oscar submission, which is getting hotter by the month, has trounced its rivals by winning this year’s prestigious award

Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee crowned with the 2021 Nordic Council Film Prize
l-r: The creators of Flee - editor Janus Billeskov Jansen, writer-director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, and producers Monica Hellström, Charlotte de la Gournerie and Signe Byrge Sørensen (© Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org)

Attended and championed by Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, hosted by actor Jakob Oftebro and enhanced by choice regional musical numbers, the ceremony for the 2021 Nordic Council Awards evolved into a joyful, atmospheric and intimate event, taking place on Tuesday night at the Royal Danish Playhouse in Copenhagen in connection with the 73rd session of the Nordic Council. Five main DKK 300,000 (roughly €40,300) prizes were handed out, for achievements in film, music, environment, literature and youth literature, with the winners in each category decided on by a select expert jury, comprising members from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland as well as the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Åland and the Sámi-language area.

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There was a firm favourite for the Film Prize when the nominees were unveiled at the Norwegian International Film Festival in Haugesund in August (see the news), and this hunch was proven correct, as Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jonas Poher Rasmussen
film profile
]
triumphed over the other contenders, which were Sweden’s Tigers [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ronnie Sandahl
film profile
]
, Norway’s Gunda [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, Iceland’s Alma [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and Finland’s Any Day Now [+see also:
trailer
interview: Hamy Ramezan
film profile
]
. “Flee asks concrete and chilling questions as part of our contemporary migration debate, while simultaneously making it easy for the viewer to see themselves in Amin’s relatable, existential uncertainties, which the film supports with a well-thought-through and sometimes humorous flair for detail and setting,” read the motivation of the jury, which also praised the film’s use of animation and the necessity of a childhood and a place to call home. In his acceptance speech, Poher Rasmussen emphasised the film’s “Nordicness. […] In so many ways, Flee is a very Nordic story, as it’s about trust – in the system, in each other, in friends, in an underage and exposed refugee. We trust that if we give, we will get something back. These values, to me, are the ones that will take you from being a refugee into becoming a human being. These values are under pressure today, with talk about who’s for or against refugees. But no one is really for refugees, least of all the refugees themselves.”

Producers Monica Hellström, Charlotte de la Gournerie and Signe Byrge Sørensen, writer-director Poher Rasmussen and writer “Amin”, the still-pseudonymous main character of the story, shared the award, making it Denmark’s seventh win since the instigation of the Film Prize by the Nordic Council in 2005.

The account, through a first-person voice-over, animated depictions and real-life archive footage, of a journey that stretches from war-ridden, 1980s Afghanistan, through post-wall, early-1990s Russia, to contemporary Scandinavia, is having quite a hot journey of its own. Presented as part of the 2020 Cannes selection, winning both Göteborg and Sundance in early 2021, and picking up top awards at Annecy, Montclair and Visions du Réel, it was recently chosen as Denmark’s submission for the 2022 Best International Feature at the Academy Awards. Increasing additional buzz regarding the Best Feature Documentary Oscar has led to Flee becoming one of the true central highlights of the 2021 cinema season.

You can find more information on the awards here.

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