Edward Lovelace’s heartfelt and valuable documentary tells the story of Lawand Hamad Amin, a profoundly deaf Iraqi Kurdish boy who some eight years ago fled his home country with his family, found himself in the Calais “jungle”, and was helped across to the UK by a disability charity. Lawand was settled in Derby where he became a star pupil at the Royal School for the Deaf. Equipped with a hi-tech hearing aid and learning British Sign Language, he came to terms with the world for the first time, gaining a new relationship with his family and realising he was not the disruptive underachiever everyone thought but a really intelligent child. But then the Home Office indicated that Lawand’s family could be deported and they had a battle on their hands.
Lovelace’s film attempts to feel its way inside Lawand’s consciousness, perhaps in the empathic and intuitive spirit of The Reason I Jump, a documentary about neurodivergence. There are some fascinating, impressionistic, almost free-associative scenes here, although I sometimes wondered if the film was perhaps a bit too dreamy in its imagined otherworldly view, perhaps conflating what it took to be Lawand’s view of the world with its own anxious idealism. I have to say I also thought it relies rather heavily, at times, on some Malick-esque music and golden-hour visuals in this regard, and I would have liked to hear more directly from Lawand’s parents who are almost entirely silent. But there is something inspiring in the scenes showing his lessons with his teacher Sophie Stone, and in the poetry that the film finds, not just in Lawand’s lonely determination but also in that of his brother Rawa, who is striving to be his friend and ally.
• Name Me Lawand is released on 7 July in UK and Irish cinemas