Epsilon Spires, the ArtLords present a night of Afghan food and film combined with a discussion of LGBTQ rights

BRATTLEBORO — The Danish-Afghan animated documentary Flee will be screened at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, at Epsilon Spires.

The event will also include Afghan food cooked by the ArtLords, a grassroots network of Afghan muralists and political activists who were displaced by the Taliban and resettled in Brattleboro, where they have previously collaborated on the new High Street mural that was commissioned by Epsilon Spires and designed by First Proof Press.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion about LGBTQ rights. Thanks to a generous grant from Vermont Humanities, Flee will be presented to the public by donation, with all proceeds going to the curator and artists.

“The reason why we selected this movie is to show what life looks like to be a queer in Afghanistan,” Abdullah, a member of the ArtLords who uses only his first name in the press for reasons of safety, said in a news release. “The documentary fairly and equally depicts the situation of millions of Afghans who left, and are still leaving, their families and homes to seek refuge for the sake of security and peace.”

Flee is a deeply moving animated feature film for adults that tells the story of a gay Afghan refugee who comes to terms with his identity while resettling in Denmark after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s,” say organizers. The movie made history in 2021 by becoming the first film to score a trifecta of Oscar nominations in the categories of Best Animated Feature, Best Documentary, and Best International Film.

Flee is the story of then that resonates with now,” says Abdullah. “They say history repeats, and the modern history of Afghanistan proves it. The government of Afghanistan is a total disaster, which has led to innocent civilians being killed, abducted, persecuted, tortured to death, and starved for the basic needs of life. Women, children and the Queer community suffer the most.”

Abdullah was born in Panjshir, Afghanistan, and then migrated to Pakistan, where he studied painting, traditional calligraphy, and Persian miniatures. He moved back to Kabul to complete his bachelor's degree in computer science, where he also began painting murals with the ArtLords. When the Taliban took over the control of Kabul, he was forced to flee, which established a personal connection to the film that he has chosen to show at Epsilon Spires.

The ArtLords will be cooking Qawbili Palaw, a kind of rice pilaf with raisins, carrots, and meat served with a traditional Afghan salad, which will be offered as a tasting portion to get acquainted with flavors featured in popular Afghan cuisine. Advanced registration for the event at is recommended in order to make sure there is enough food for everyone.

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