Thandie Newton is Executive Producer on the hybrid animated/documentary film” Liyana,” which is directed by first time feature filmmakers Aaron Kopp and Amanda Kopp. Shine Global co-founders Susan MacLaury and longtime television executive Albie Hecht join Newton as executive producers.
“Liyana” is set to make its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival, which just kicked off, and runs through June 22nd.
Set in a home for orphans in Swaziland, Liyana focuses on 5 children aged 10 to 13 as they participate in a workshop led by acclaimed storyteller Gcina Mhlophe. The children collage together an original character, a young girl named Liyana. The world that they imagine is brought to life in the film in a unique style of animation. Drawing from painful memories, the children describe a violent attack at Liyana’s home. In the aftermath of this terrible night, Liyana must embark on a dangerous quest into the wilderness. Profound insight is revealed as the children shape their heroine’s mythic journey, and parallels are drawn between Liyana’s fate, and that of the young storytellers.
Liyana aims to encourage young people to make their voices heard, and to unite their communities as they look for world-changing solutions within themselves.
Co-Director Aaron Kopp grew up in Swaziland and had been looking for a way to do a film with the children at this orphan home as he and Amanda have traveled back and forth between the United States and Swaziland during the last 13 years.
When they began filming, the filmmakers reached out to prominent South African activist and storyteller Gcina Mhlophe who immediately joined the project.
Ultimately the filmmakers’ goal is to use the power of storytelling to dispel outside misconceptions about Africans, as well as improve the confidence in their own potential to help others and to make the world a better place.
This is the first feature for Aaron and Amanda as directors though they both have significant experience working as co-producers and cinematographers on such films as the Oscar-winning documentary “Saving Face” and the recent Sundance film “The Hunting Ground.”
In addition to Thandie Newton, other team members include Oscar winner Daniel Junge as a producer and editor Davis Coombe who has edited Emmy- and Oscar-winning documentaries, including “Saving Face” and “Chasing Ice.”
“Liyana” makes its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Saturday, June 17 at 12:35PM, at the Arclight Culver City Theater. We’ll have a review of the film soon after its premiere.
No trailer yet, but you’ll find a bunch of official images from the animated part of the film below: