The trailer for the Thandie Newton-produced documentary Liyana has been released. The stories mentioned in the trailer are so powerful, you’ll immediately know that you’ll need to bring tissues to the theater.


The film by Aaron Kopp and Amanda Kopp combines animated storytelling with traditional documentary work to explore the rich and traumatic lives of orphaned children in Swaziland.


As the official description states: “Under the guidance of acclaimed South African storyteller, Gcina Mhlophe, five orphaned children from Swaziland collaborate to craft a collective fairytale drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character, Liyana, is brought to life in innovative animated artwork as she embarks on a perilous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. The children’s real and imagined worlds begin to converge, and they must choose what kind of story they will tell – in fiction and in their own lives.”


Newton executive produced the film, which also features beautiful animation by Nigerian artist Shofela Coker and an amazing score by South African composer Philip Miller. The film is supported by the MacArthur Foundation, Fork Films, Doha Film Institute, IFP, the Bertha Foundation and Doc Society.

Liyana has won 26 festival awards so far and has premiered at over 80 festivals, with critics hailing the film as an important, moving work. Shadow and Act’s Iquo B Essien said of the film after its Los Angeles Film Festival premiere: “Brilliant. Powerful. The world desperately needs to see more stories like this.”

The film will debut at the Maysles Documentary Center in New York Oct. 10. Dates for Los Angeles and other cities will soon be released.