The Mind Game

When he was just 15, Sajid Khan Nasiri fled Afghanistan alone. After a two-year journey filled with danger and hardships – which he minutely documented on his phone camera – he arrives in Belgium to seek asylum. There, a whole new struggle begins. An intimate sequel to the prize-winning Shadow Game.

They call it ‘the game’: the life-threatening journey that many unaccompanied minors undertake seeking protection in Western Europe. For Sajid Khan Nasiri, the game started at 14 after the Taliban killed his father. Via Iran and Turkey to Eastern Europe he progressed ever closer to his destination, hunted down by violent police and hostile civilians. In clips recorded with his telephone camera, and in messages to filmmakers Eefje Blankevoort and Els van Driel, he keeps track of his progress.

He is sure that when he arrives, he’ll be able to relax, go to school and start a new life. But once in Belgium a new game begins: the mind game. Being a child, how do you deal with the enormous mental pressure of the journey, with distrustful authorities, and disturbing messages from the home front?

An intimate documentary about the psychological pressure young refugees face.


  • Year: 2023
  • Duration: 62 mins
  • Production: Prospektor
  • Director: Sajid Khan Nasiri, Eefje Blankevoort, & Els van Driel
  • Available Versions: ENG
  • Country of production: The Netherlands


  • Education Award for the most educational film at Movies That Matter 2024 (Netherlands), Mediterranean Youth Prize at Primed 2023 (France), Best International Feature Documentary Award in the competitive category "GlobalDocs" (DocsMX 2023 (Mexico), Youth Jury Prize at Human Rights Film Festival Berlin 2023 (Germany), Bring The Change Award Aldini Valeriani, Bring The Change Award Arca di Noè, Special Mention "Tutta un’altra storia "for Sajid Khan Nasiri at Biografilm Festival 2023 (Italy), Movies That Matter 2023 (Netherlands), Refugee Arts Film Festival 2023 (Romania), EBS International Documentary Film Festival 2023 (South Korea) , Festival des Libertés 2023 (Belgium), AJB Doc 2023 (Bosnia & Herzgovina), UNHCR Refugee Film Festival 2023 (Japan), Primed 2023 (France), Global Health Film Festival 2023 (UK), Verzio International Human Rights Festival 2023 (Hungary), Trevignano Doc Stories 2023 (Italy), VOICES (European Festival of Journalism and Media Literacy) 2024 (Italy), Ecofalante Environmental Film Festival 2024 (Brazil)

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Shadow Game

Every day teenagers who have fled their war-torn countries try to cross Europe’s borders in search of protection and a better life. They travel through a shadow world of minefields, bears, fast-flowing rivers, smugglers and border guards., desperately trying to win what they call 'The Game’.

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