Sundance Film ‘Flee’ Sells to Neon for Seven Figures

Matt Donnelly
·2-min read

The Oscar-winning studio behind “Parasite” broke the ice at the 2021 virtual Sundance Film Festival sales market.

The indie company has acquired the documentary “Flee,” also an official selection of Cannes 2020, in a competitive situation after the movie’s Thursday premiere. The doc went for roughly $1 million, individuals familiar with the deal said. 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.

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Jonas Poher Rasmussen directed the project, executive produced by Riz Ahmed and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. The hand-drawn narrative follow an individual named Amin Nawabi (a pseudonym), who grapples with a painful secret he has kept hidden for 20 years. It threatens to derail the life he has built for himself and his soon-to-be husband. 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.

The film was 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. Associate producers include 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 U.S.,” said Monica Hellström and Signe Byrge Sørensen of Final Cut for Real.

“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.

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.”

Coster-Waldau added he 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.”

Rasmussen and Amin Nawabi served as writers. The film was edited by Janus Billeskov Jansen (“The Act of Killing ,” “Strong Island,” and current awards contender “Another Round”).

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