Liyana Reviewed: BFI London Film Festival

Beautifully crafted cinematic piece using both animation and documentary as a group of five children from a Swaziland orphanage create the story of Liyana with their imagination and sometimes built around their own life experience. Liyana is the story of a young girl whose parents die of AIDS and when her twin brothers are kidnapped she must embark on a dangerous journey to rescue them.

Through this feature-length film Directors Amanda and Aaron Kopp capture the plight and the hearts of the children weaving in and out of narration, documenting the storytelling process as the children are taught how to develop story and character, then we are given vivid and brilliant animation created by Art Director/Animator Shofela Coker, following Liyana’s journey. The parallel stories work together creating a fluid and compelling narrative.

The film gives voice to the life of the unheard and it is delicately handled, for example when one of the children had to go for a HIV test. Highlighting that Swaziland has the world’s highest estimated rate of HIV-infected adults with 26% of people aged 15-49. The filmmakers use the voice of the children to raise issues that may lie dormant and are no longer news.

“Sometimes the story of people’s family can upset” said one of the young narrators. To quote the Director’s statement: “….at its heart, the film is a meditation on the transformative power of storytelling – an ode to the creative spirit”. 5/5

The BFI London Film Festival runs until 15th October 2017. To find out more, book tickets: http://bit.ly/2getPit

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