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‘Flee’ Takes AIF 2021 Grand Prize

Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s ‘touching and innovative’ film shares the personal history of an Afghan refugee; ‘Belle’ awarded special jury prize, with the audience award going to ‘The Crossing.’

Animation Is Film (AIF) has announced its 2021 winners, with Flee taking the Grand Prize. Written and directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen and distributed by NEON, the movie tells the story of Afghan refugee Amin Nawabi as he grapples with a painful secret, kept hidden for 20 years, that threatens to derail the life he has built for himself and his soon to be husband.

“In the touching and innovative documentary Flee, Jonas Poher Rasmussen takes great care in sharing the personal history of an Afghan refugee,” noted jury chair, Peter Debruge. “The filmmaker uses the process of animation to protect the identity of his subject, while also bringing an added layer to the material, capturing the impact of trauma on memory and identity in the process.”

The Special Jury Prize was awarded to Belle, written, and directed by Mamoru Hosoda. It tells the story of Suzu, a 17-year-old high school student who embarks on a journey of adventures, challenges, and love in her quest to become who she truly is. GKIDS will release the film theatrically in the US this coming January.

The Audience Award went to The Crossing, directed by Florence Miailhe. Kyona and Adriel are separated from their parents facing the road of exile alone. They embark on a heroic journey which takes them from childhood to adolescence, surviving incredible challenges before reaching a new world, free at last.

"At a time when audiences everywhere are still easing back into theatres, we were positively awestruck by the steady hum of enthusiasm on display this weekend at Animation Is Film,” shared AIF director Matt Kaszanek. “With sold-out screenings every day of the festival, Los Angeles announced itself once again as an epicenter for cinema and animation lovers. We were so happy to see everyone again.”

The 2021 edition featured a jury of animation notables including Myke Chilian (Animator, Creator, TIG 'N SEEK); Deborah Cook (Stop-Motion Costume Designer, LAIKA); Peter Debruge (Chief Film Critic, Variety / Jury Chair); Sandra Equihua (Netflix’s animated series Maya and The Three); Dan Krall (Artist, Producer, Dexter's Laboratory); Kristin Lowe (CCO of Features for DreamWorks Animation); Erick Oh (Oscar Nominee for Opera); Ray Pride (Film Critic); Raye Rodriguez (Creator & Executive Producer of Crunchyroll Original Series High Guardian Spice); Charles Solomon (Critic and Historian); and Ramin Zahed (Editor-in-Chief for Animation Magazine).

The 4th Annual Animation Is Film Festival took place October 22-24 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood, presenting a program of 12 animated feature films in competition, with selections from Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The festival was produced by GKIDS in partnership with Annecy International Animation Film Festival and Variety.

Source: Animation is Film Festival