VIFF Film Review - Lamya's Poem (2021)

Still image of Lamya from Lamya's Poem

Lamya’s Poem is an animated story inspired by the 13th century Persian poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī. There’s two story lines in this film that are intertwined with a magical dream sequence where the two main characters will meet. The first story line centers on Lamya, a 12 year old bright student in Syria 2016. She has a passion for reading, is a good student, devoted to her mother and a love of fire flies. Her teacher entrusts her with a book from his personal collection, Poet of Love by Rumi.

The second story line is set nearly 800 years earlier in the same country of Syria 1221 and follows a young Rumi. He is just starting to write his poetry and follow in the footsteps of his father who is a scholar. His beautiful city is then destroyed by Mongolians and he becomes a refugee. Rumi and his father join the pilgrims on their way to Mecca. Back in Lamya’s timeline bombs have devastated her town and Lamya and her mother must also leave their home. They have to give up everything they have to get passage across the Mediterranean sea to hopefully end up somewhere safe.

These two story lines of refugees fleeing the invasion and destruction of their homes bring these characters together. Lamya is connected to Rumi through his poetry. Rumi’s words written so long ago can offer comfort to a young girl going through the same struggle as Rumi did.

“Listen to the reed and the tale it tells. How it sings of separation. Since I was torn from my reed bed, my song has been a strain of love and pain. I long for someone who understands the signs, to mingle their heart with mine. To heal a heart that bleeds listen, listen to the reed”.

In Rumi’s timeline he struggles with his anger about being forced from his home and feels hopeless, wanting to give up his writing. His father’s encouraging words echo across centuries. “You were made a writer because someone, somewhere needs your words. If not today, then tomorrow, if not here then perhaps in a place you can hardly imagine. We live in one form in this world and another in a timeless land”.

This story is heart breaking and beautiful. It shows the impact our words can have on human existence carried forward through generations. The words of wisdom can bring hope for a better future, in even the direst of situations.  

“Hold onto the pain and help other wounded hearts to heal”.

Lamya’s Poem is available to stream through VIFF Connect and limited in cinema screenings.

The 40th annual Vancouver International Film Festival runs Oct 1 – 11.

Tickets and info visit viff.org

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