poem by Lamya is a hidden gem, a film that defies expectations for modern American animation but may resonate with fans of international projects like Cartoon Saloon’s the breadwinner. The direct-to-streaming release comes from non-profit education studio Unity Productions Foundation, founded by speaker and writer Alexander Kronemer, who wrote and directed the film. It follows a brilliant young woman named Lamya (Millie Davis), who finds solace in the poetry of 13th-century scholar Rumi (Mena Massoud) after she is forced to flee her hometown of Aleppo during the Syrian Civil War.
The film addresses three interconnected plotlines: Lamya’s escape from Syria, Rumi’s similar emigration after a Mongol invasion, and an encounter between the two in a strange fantasy world where they encounter metaphorical beings that represent the dangers each of them faces. On their own, any one of these plotlines could carry an entire movie. Lamya struggles to keep her head up when all hope is lost. Rumi struggles with his desire for revenge, which overwhelms his devotion to his poetry. And in the realm of dreams, the two meet and discover a mysterious city under attack.
When Kronemer brings them together, however, they sometimes undermine each other – especially the fantasy plot, which occasionally detracts from the characters’ individual journeys. Yet at the film’s climax, all three threads merge, with Rumi’s poetry tying them together, and this creates a synergy in a beautiful, evocative moment.
Beautifully rendered backgrounds help to reinforce this beauty. poem by Lamya it has its limitations, particularly in character animation, but the exquisitely painted scenery more than makes up for it. The fantastical dream world has the most eye-catching visuals, but even the mundane scenes on the streets of Lamya’s hometown or Rumi’s desert trek are lovingly reproduced. And this art isn’t just reserved for the positive moments. Some of the film’s most difficult scenes — Lamya and her mother on a raft from Syria, Lamya alone in a refugee camp — resonate all the more when the setting plays such an important role.
poem by Lamya draws parallels between the Syrian refugee crisis (along with the prejudice Lamya faces when she ends up in an unspecified European country) and Rumi’s own emigration from Samarkand after the Mongol invasion. These are heavy themes, but Kronemer avoids showing explicit violence. Instead, he uses poetry to string his dark stories together. Lamya repeats a private poem by Rumi about reeds cut from its source throughout the film, and as the film progresses, the meaning behind the words becomes more and more apparent – Lamya and Rumi are separated from their homelands.
And that idea connects them, much as the actual poem gives them a link that stretches across time. There aren’t as many poems in this film as a story about poetry could have, but that just underscores the importance of the specific piece Lamya clings to, which Rumi himself composes in the flashback. It is a testament to the power of poetry and art, and how it unites people over time and resonates with human truths unchanged over the centuries. poem by Lamya shares the transcendent impact that art can have by being a special work of art.
poem by Lamya is available for rent at amazon, itunes, apple tv, voodoo, Google Playand other digital platforms.