Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Lamya’s Poem is an animated treasure inspired by the works of 13th century poet, Jalaladin Muhammad Rumi. This cleverly scripted classic 2D-animation weaves together the story of a modern Syrian child fleering war against Rumi’s personal tale of his hometown being overrun by the Mongols. The two storylines flow harmoniously together, complimenting each tale with eerie parallels and cultural commentary. With a voice cast including Aladdin’s Mena Massoud, each talent is perfectly hand-picked to fill their prospective roles. Massoud’s passionate and eager interpretation of Rumi is an edgy and perfect fit, while Orphan Black star Millie Davis presents a quiet innocence in her portrayal of Lamya.

The opening credits show off the beauty of lightning bugs as they literally light up Lamya’s dreams before beady red eyes turn the whole thing into a nightmare. Lamya wakes up as her mother rushes her to prepare for the arrival of Professor Hamadani (Raoul Bhaneja). He gifts Lamya, who he views to have the “makings of a good teacher,” with a book from his personal library. Take one guess at who the author is…

By giving a literary tie directly into the story, this film is able to stress the importance of books through more than simply dialogue. Yes, both Hamadani and Rumi’s own father stress the significance of words on making change. The mantra “someone somewhere needs your words” is basically Lamya’s Poem summed up into five words or less. The literal stories of the two timelines are just so splendidly blended together. At least two times, I got chills from juxtaposed sequences, like when the bombs from planes in modern day reflect against the explosions of Mongol invaders. 

Rumi’s story finds him becoming a refugee on the run after the Mongols destroy his city. He starts coming to Lamya in the form of dreams and through the words of his meaningful poems. Lamya finds herself on the run with her mother, and the one constant she has through it all is Professor Hamadani’s precious book: Rumi’s poems. She finds incredible comfort in his harrowing story, as she is forced to turn to refugee life herself. This is heavy and heartbreaking—I would only recommend the film to families with mature children that can handle more intense subject matter. I nearly cried when Lamya’s mother is forced to give up her deceased husband’s wedding ring and literally everything she owns, in order to secure safe passage for her and Lamya. A touching tale told through a beautiful medium, Lamya’s Poem is a terrific offering from Unity Productions Foundation.

Lamya’s Poem screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival. 

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