Name Me Lawand | Fresh Takes

Fresh takes and film reviews from new voices in film.

Carys, Fatma, Hebe, Isabelle and Lucilla

07 Jul 23

Fresh Takes is a space for the latest generation of film lovers to share their views and opinions on some of the great films we are showing at Picturehouse cinemas. 

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Here are some Fresh Takes on the upcoming documentary NAME ME LAWAND,  an inspirational and touching coming-of-age story which explores the power of communication and community through the experiences of a young Deaf Kurdish boy - five-year-old Lawand. 

Name Me Lawand is out in cinemas from July 7th, with some preview screenings during Refugee Week. Book tickets here.

Fatma Ali, (24)

London-based Fatma works in the criminal justice sector. She escapes reality by rinsing out Letterboxd and MUBI. Obsessed with dreamy cinematography, witty dialogue and soundtracks you want to fuse into your brain.

Fatma says...

Truly vibrational – this is a film you feel in more ways than one. Despite the purposeful lack of verbal conversation this film says so much, redefining what it means to 'speak up'.

This hopeful piece follows Lawand, our deaf protagonist, who is navigating the impossible with a strength and perseverance that will follow you home long after the screen goes blank.

The film delves into the theme of belonging beautifully, exploring the refugee experience of fleeing Iraq for Derby, and the importance of alternative forms of communication like sign language in building community and identity. Lawand finds that he communicates himself best when he says nothing at all.

The film is a visually stunning showcase of artistic transitions and incredibly rousing musical scores. It is a film that does not compromise on style or substance, immersing you in the intimacy of familial bonds and boyhood, with a soundscape of scratchy felt tip pens and the thudding of a football.

While a lot of films seek to transport you to new and distant planets, this film made me grateful to be on this one.

Hebe, (23)

Hebe is a London-based philosophy graduate and aspiring journalist and documentary filmmaker, who's great at asking questions and a work-in-progress at knowing when to stop. Read more of her reviews here.

Hebe says...

Name Me Lawand is truly beautiful. The film follows Lawand, a Kurdish boy who's been deaf since birth. As a young child, Lawand and his family leave Iraq, seeking asylum in the UK and eventually ending up in Derby at the Royal School for the Deaf. Lawand starts out not knowing any BSL – with no way to communicate, he has no way to verbalise his trauma.

The audience is plunged into Lawand's world through a combination of intimate shots, vibrating soundscapes (that I can actually feel from my seat) and simple, organic storytelling.

On one level, the film tells a particular story, Lawand's story, which got me thinking about the dual isolation of being an asylum seeker and being deaf, and how lonely Lawand must feel as his parents struggle to grapple with his deafness. But on another level, the film tells a universal story about the power of love and friendship. 

I found the love between Lawand and his brother, Rawa, incredibly moving. Despite only being a few years older, Rawa clearly takes his role as big brother seriously, supporting Lawand every step of the way.

Close-up shots of Rawa learning BSL from Lawand are especially touching - and made me miss my sister! And as Lawand makes friends and his BSL progresses, his confidence grows and his personality blossoms - and seeing this is inspiring.

Name Me Lawand left me feeling hopeful, so I urge you to go and see it!

Carys Morris, (19)

Carys is an undergraduate at the University of Bath who's passionate about current documentaries and interesting and unique perspectives that aren't often heard.  Read more of her reviews here.

Carys says...

Director Edward Lovelace has clearly used this heart-wrenching documentary as a homage to language. His choice to limit the verbal conversations and focus on the senses, creates an almost transient state for the viewer, where we become dependent on sign language and subtitles, mirroring the overlooked difficulties of the deaf community.

For me, this movie was about the importance of language and the friendships and communities around you. I was taken aback by the impact that the BSL teachers had on Lawand, reminding me of the positive role teachers have had in my life. They enabled him to start trusting and forming relationships, seeing his past or deafness as a small part of his wider individuality.

I can see why this documentary is so acclaimed, as it celebrates the impact of language in its multitude of forms.

Bella Madge, (19)

Bella is a film enthusiast who has a love for the exploration of human perspective in film. She has autism and dreams of becoming a professional film critic. She spends her time watching and reviewing new films. Read her reviews here.

Bella says...

Name Me Lawand is a tragically beautiful and wondrously aching homage to many powerful topics. In just seven chapters, director Edward Lovelace gives us an insight into the lives of refugees, the lives of deaf people and the isolation that's part of both.

It is a flowing tale of family and friendships, and presents us with an excellent exploration into the many forms of language.
Lawand's story, one of heroism and survival, is told with a great sense of lyricism, from the sweeping soundscape to the capturing of the sunlight on Lawand's face. There is a poignancy in the nuances of this documentary that will leave audiences with tear-stained faces and beaming smiles.
The question of belonging is threaded throughout this film, which had a profoundly emotive effect on me. The shots of the endless spectacle of space in contrast with the war-torn desolation of Iraq place us directly in Lawand's shoes.

His sense of misplacement and isolation makes him feel like he should be living on another planet, in another time. I, being an autistic person, was touched at the accurate way Lovelace portrays this particular topic.
Name Me Lawand is not a sob story. It is the empowering tale of a young boy who longs to find confidence in his move to Derby. He seeks communication, trust, and most importantly, the justice that he and his family deserve. Lawand's story will stick in your chest for a long, long time.

Lucilla, (22)

Lucilla is a film programmer and video producer and editor based in Edinburgh, currently studying the Screen Progression Programme at Screen Education Edinburgh. Find out more about Lucilla here.

Lucilla says...

Coming from a family with two profoundly deaf people, I felt particularly touched by Name Me Lawand. I remember as a kid I would try my hardest to learn as many signs as possible so that I could tell my 'very annoying 4-year-old' stories to my aunt.

This film also reminded me of the awful pit in the stomach I always get when my aunt sees all of the hearing family laugh, be shocked, or have some sort of other big reaction, and she rushes to ask for someone to translate for her.

The importance that is given to being able to freely communicate and belong in a community is something that we often neglect when considering what we as humans need to feel happy and fulfilled, and this film focuses on just that – without making it a deaf issue, but rather a human desire.

The main reason why this film flows so well is the willingness of Lovelace to break free of all of the classic documentary conventions. The attention both to style and substance – abandoning the usual 'coldness' of a more realistic approach to visuals and sit-down 'confessional'-style interviews, instead opting for isolated voices that intertwine with beautiful imagery – make this such an immersive and touching experience.

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