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The Film


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The Film


SYNOPSIS

A talented group of orphaned children in the Kingdom of Swaziland confront past trauma through the creation of a fictional character, a young girl named Liyana. The world that they imagine for her is brought to life in a unique style of animated artwork. 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.

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DIRECTORS' STATEMENT

We have collaborated with our characters to make the film that we most want to see. “Liyana” is a lyrical film that gives our young storytellers the stage. We believe that well crafted stories of hope and triumph spoken from within are potent tools in enacting social change. We hope this film will play a crucial role in breaking stereotypes and challenging the prevalent, simplistic singular narrative of orphans, and of Africans in general. A brave female lead gives both the children in the film, and the audience a positive role model that will help empower women and young people in the region and beyond. Ultimately, the film is a meditation on storytelling, an ode to the creative spirit.

 

*LIYANA is currently in postproduction.

 

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FILMMAKERS


FILMMAKERS


FILMMAKERS

THANDIE NEWTON               EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Thandie Newton is an English-Zimbabwean actress. She has starred in many films such as, Beloved, The Pursuit of Happyness, Mission: Impossible II, RocknRolla, 2012, and Crash - for which she received a number of awards, including a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She was most recently seen in NBC's The Slap and is currently shooting Westworld for HBO due to premiere early 2016. Thandie is actively involved in the V-Day foundation, and has been a Board Member since 2012. In 2011 she attended the opening of the City of Joy in Bukavu, DRC. It houses and supports women survivors of sexual violence and provides them with opportunities to develop their leadership skills through innovative programming. Thandie also spoke at the Ted Global Conference in 2011 on the topic of “Embracing Otherness.”

THANDIE NEWTON               EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Thandie Newton is an English-Zimbabwean actress. She has starred in many films such as, Beloved, The Pursuit of Happyness, Mission: Impossible II, RocknRolla, 2012, and Crash - for which she received a number of awards, including a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She was most recently seen in NBC's The Slap and is currently shooting Westworld for HBO due to premiere early 2016. Thandie is actively involved in the V-Day foundation, and has been a Board Member since 2012. In 2011 she attended the opening of the City of Joy in Bukavu, DRC. It houses and supports women survivors of sexual violence and provides them with opportunities to develop their leadership skills through innovative programming. Thandie also spoke at the Ted Global Conference in 2011 on the topic of “Embracing Otherness.”

SAKHENI DLAMINI                           PRODUCER Sakheni Dlamini is a Swazi professional who holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Marketing from Simmons College in Boston. She has worked in both corporate and rural development settings, managing projects, facilitating discussions and implementing programs across Swaziland. Dlamini specializes in economic strengthening and has a passion for empowering women and students in their communities. LIYANA is her first film production.              

SAKHENI DLAMINI                          

PRODUCER

Sakheni Dlamini is a Swazi professional who holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Marketing from Simmons College in Boston. She has worked in both corporate and rural development settings, managing projects, facilitating discussions and implementing programs across Swaziland. Dlamini specializes in economic strengthening and has a passion for empowering women and students in their communities. LIYANA is her first film production.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHOFELA COKER                  ANIMATION ARTIST Shofela Coker is an artist and animator specializing in 3D character modeling, illustration, and look development. Coker comes from a family of artists originally from Lagos, Nigeria, which has greatly shaped his passion and artistic vision. Since graduating from the Memphis College of Art in 2009, Coker worked as a character artist at Sony Online Entertainment in San Diego, CA. He and his siblings formed the Coker Co-op, a collective that creates comic books, sculptures, writing, and digital art. Coker is committed to telling distinctly African stories with a unique style.          

SHOFELA COKER                  ANIMATION ARTIST

Shofela Coker is an artist and animator specializing in 3D character modeling, illustration, and look development. Coker comes from a family of artists originally from Lagos, Nigeria, which has greatly shaped his passion and artistic vision. Since graduating from the Memphis College of Art in 2009, Coker worked as a character artist at Sony Online Entertainment in San Diego, CA. He and his siblings formed the Coker Co-op, a collective that creates comic books, sculptures, writing, and digital art. Coker is committed to telling distinctly African stories with a unique style.

 

 

 

 

 

PHILIP MILLER                              COMPOSER South African composer, Philip Miller, has worked with some of the most innovative filmmakers and visual artists to emerge from South Africa. He has composed music for the soundtracks to many local and international film and television productions including Steven Silver’s The Bang Bang Club, Andrew Dosunmu’s Mother of George, Black Butterflies; which was awarded best film score at the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA), and Catch a Fire, starring Tim Robbins. Miller has collaborated extensively with internationally acclaimed artist, William Kentridge. His music for the 5-screen multimedia installation, The Refusal of Time by Kentridge at the Tate Modern, London, is currently receiving much attention and acclaim. 

PHILIP MILLER                              COMPOSER

South African composer, Philip Miller, has worked with some of the most innovative filmmakers and visual artists to emerge from South Africa. He has composed music for the soundtracks to many local and international film and television productions including Steven Silver’s The Bang Bang Club, Andrew Dosunmu’s Mother of George, Black Butterflies; which was awarded best film score at the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTA), and Catch a Fire, starring Tim Robbins. Miller has collaborated extensively with internationally acclaimed artist, William Kentridge. His music for the 5-screen multimedia installation, The Refusal of Time by Kentridge at the Tate Modern, London, is currently receiving much attention and acclaim. 

AARON KOPP    DIRECTOR/PRODUCER Aaron Kopp is an award-winning filmmaker and Emmy-nominated cinematographer who grew up in Swaziland. Kopp shot and co-produced the Oscar-winning documentary about acid attacks in Pakistan, Saving Face. He was also cinematographer for the Sundance 2015 premiered film, The Hunting Ground, about sexual assault on college campuses, which is shortlisted for the 2016 Oscars. For his short film, Likhaya, he was awarded People’s Choice and Best Documentary awards at international festivals. He has worked on films around the world for HBO, National Geographic, Discovery, UK Channel4, CBS, CNN, and PBS. Kopp was awarded grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the Doha Film Institute for his upcoming feature directorial debut, Liyana.                                                                     

AARON KOPP    DIRECTOR/PRODUCER

Aaron Kopp is an award-winning filmmaker and Emmy-nominated cinematographer who grew up in Swaziland. Kopp shot and co-produced the Oscar-winning documentary about acid attacks in Pakistan, Saving Face. He was also cinematographer for the Sundance 2015 premiered film, The Hunting Ground, about sexual assault on college campuses, which is shortlisted for the 2016 Oscars. For his short film, Likhaya, he was awarded Peoples Choice and Best Documentary awards at international festivals. He has worked on films around the world for HBO, National Geographic, Discovery, UK Channel4, CBS, CNN, and PBS. Kopp was awarded grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the Doha Film Institute for his upcoming feature directorial debut, Liyana.                          

                                          

GCINA MHLOPHE                            STORY ADVISOR Gcina Mhlophe was born and raised in South Africa. She has been writing and performing on stage and screen for more than 25 years. She has written many children's books as well as poetry, short stories, and plays. Her writings are published all over the world and translated into German, French, Italian, Swahili, and Japanese. Her work has received awards from BBC Africa Service for Radio Drama, The Fringe First Award in the Edinburgh Festival, the Josef Jefferson Award in Chicago, and OBBIE in New York.        

GCINA MHLOPHE                            STORY ADVISOR

Gcina Mhlophe was born and raised in South Africa. She has been writing and performing on stage and screen for more than 25 years. She has written many children's books as well as poetry, short stories, and plays. Her writings are published all over the world and translated into German, French, Italian, Swahili, and Japanese. Her work has received awards from BBC Africa Service for Radio Drama, The Fringe First Award in the Edinburgh Festival, the Josef Jefferson Award in Chicago, and OBBIE in New York.

 

 

 

 

AMANDA KOPP  DIRECTOR/PRODUCER Amanda Kopp is an award-winning photographer and artist. She was producer and cinematographer for the short film Likhaya, which won a Golden Palm, People’s Choice, and Best Documentary awards at international festivals. She also filmed for the Sundance 2015 premiered film, The Hunting Ground. Kopp’s photographic work has been published in the UK, US, Sweden, Germany, Russia, Pakistan, and Italy. Her photographs won the Grand Prize in the Photo District News Top Knots photography competition. She has traveled to Swaziland regularly over the past 13 years and is now directing her first feature length documentary, Liyana, with funds from the MacArthur Foundation and the Doha Film Institute.    

AMANDA KOPP  DIRECTOR/PRODUCER

Amanda Kopp is an award-winning photographer and artist. She was producer and cinematographer for the short film Likhaya, which won a Golden Palm, Peoples Choice, and Best Documentary awards at international festivals. She also filmed for the Sundance 2015 premiered film, The Hunting Ground. Kopps photographic work has been published in the UK, US, Sweden, Germany, Russia, Pakistan, and Italy. Her photographs won the Grand Prize in the Photo District News Top Knots photography competition. She has traveled to Swaziland regularly over the past 13 years and is now directing her first feature length documentary, Liyana, with funds from the MacArthur Foundation and the Doha Film Institute.

 

 

DAVIS COOMBE                                  EDITOR Davis Coombe has edited Emmy- and Oscar-winning documentaries, including Saving Face and Chasing Ice. He is a founder and owner of Milkhaus, a production company and post facility in Denver that specializes in broadcast and theatrical content. Coombe co-wrote and edited the Oscar-shortlisted film Keep On Keepin’ On and Beyond the Brick: A Lego Brickumentary, both of which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. He most recently edited Being Evel, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.        

DAVIS COOMBE                                  EDITOR

Davis Coombe has edited Emmy- and Oscar-winning documentaries, including Saving Face and Chasing Ice. He is a founder and owner of Milkhaus, a production company and post facility in Denver that specializes in broadcast and theatrical content. Coombe co-wrote and edited the Oscar-shortlisted film Keep On KeepinOn and Beyond the Brick: A Lego Brickumentary, both of which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. He most recently edited Being Evel, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

 

 

 

 

BRIDGET PICKERING                          CO-PRODUCER Bridget Pickering was the South African co-producer on Hotel Rwanda; the Terry George Oscar nominated feature film. She has produced and directed over 20 films. Pickering has directed documentaries and short films including Uno’s World, part of the Mama Africa series which was screened on PBS and had a 21 country cinema release, and Dreams of a Good Life a documentary which has been screened on Arte, YLE-Finland and won awards at BANFF and at the Zanzibar film Festival. Bridget recently produced 2 of SABC’s top audience rated drama series Redemption and uGugu no Andile, based on Romeo and Juliet. She recently produced Taste of Rain, a feature film love story set in the Namibian desert, which premiered at the Durban  International Film Festival.

BRIDGET PICKERING                          CO-PRODUCER

Bridget Pickering was the South African co-producer on Hotel Rwanda; the Terry George Oscar nominated feature film. She has produced and directed over 20 films. Pickering has directed documentaries and short films including Uno’s World, part of the Mama Africa series which was screened on PBS and had a 21 country cinema release, and Dreams of a Good Life a documentary which has been screened on Arte, YLE-Finland and won awards at BANFF and at the Zanzibar film Festival. Bridget recently produced 2 of SABC’s top audience rated drama series Redemption and uGugu no Andile, based on Romeo and Juliet. She recently produced Taste of Rain, a feature film love story set in the Namibian desert, which premiered at the Durban  International Film Festival.

SUSAN MACLAURY                     EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Susan MacLaury executive produced the Emmy Award®-winning, Academy Award®-nominated documentary War/Dance, as well as The Harvest (La Cosecha), the Academy Award® Winner Inocente, 1 Way Up in 3D, and The Eagle Huntress which premiered at Sundance.  She is also the producer of Shine’s latest film The Wrong Light. Susan is in charge of the educational outreach and social advocacy efforts for all of Shine’s films. She is dually degreed in social work administration and health education and was associate professor of health education at Kean University from 1994 through 2013.

SUSAN MACLAURY                     EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Susan MacLaury executive produced the Emmy Award®-winning, Academy Award®-nominated documentary War/Dance, as well as The Harvest (La Cosecha), the Academy Award® Winner Inocente, 1 Way Up in 3D, and The Eagle Huntress which premiered at Sundance.  She is also the producer of Shine’s latest film The Wrong Light. Susan is in charge of the educational outreach and social advocacy efforts for all of Shine’s films. She is dually degreed in social work administration and health education and was associate professor of health education at Kean University from 1994 through 2013.

ALBIE HECHT                         EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Albie Hecht is a Co-Founder of Shine Global. Albie was most recently the head of the HLN Network. Prior to HLN he was the CEO of Worldwide Biggies, a digital studio creating transmedia content for film and TV. Before creating Biggies, Albie was President of Film and Television Entertainment at Nickelodeon, where he developed Spongebob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer and co-created and executive produced “The Kids Choice Awards.” As creator and President of Spike TV, Albie brought the UFC franchise to the channel. He won awards for his documentary “True Dads: the Story of American Fatherhood” with Bruce Willis. In the movies, he produced the Oscar®-nominated animated feature Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Shine Global’s first film, the Oscar®-nominated feature documentary, War/Dance, and the Oscar® winner Inocente.

ALBIE HECHT                         EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Albie Hecht is a Co-Founder of Shine Global. Albie was most recently the head of the HLN Network. Prior to HLN he was the CEO of Worldwide Biggies, a digital studio creating transmedia content for film and TV. Before creating Biggies, Albie was President of Film and Television Entertainment at Nickelodeon, where he developed Spongebob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer and co-created and executive produced “The Kids Choice Awards.” As creator and President of Spike TV, Albie brought the UFC franchise to the channel. He won awards for his documentary “True Dads: the Story of American Fatherhood” with Bruce Willis. In the movies, he produced the Oscar®-nominated animated feature Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Shine Global’s first film, the Oscar®-nominated feature documentary, War/Dance, and the Oscar® winner Inocente.

DANIEL JUNGE                      PRODUCER Daniel Junge is an Oscar and Emmy Award-winning director. From his first film - the Tribeca-winning, Chiefs, on Native American basketball - Junge has consistently made provocative, critically acclaimed films, which have shown on over 50 networks internationally including HBO, PBS, and the BBC. Some of Daniel's films include the Toronto-premiered Iron Ladies of Liberia, the Emmy-nominated They Killed Sister Dorothy, and the Oscar-nominated The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner. Junge's film Saving Face, on acid attacks in Pakistan, won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short and the Emmy for Best Documentary of 2012. His most recent work includes the Tribeca premiered Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary, and Being Evel, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

DANIEL JUNGE                      PRODUCER

Daniel Junge is an Oscar and Emmy Award-winning director. From his first film - the Tribeca-winning, Chiefs, on Native American basketball - Junge has consistently made provocative, critically acclaimed films, which have shown on over 50 networks internationally including HBO, PBS, and the BBC. Some of Daniel's films include the Toronto-premiered Iron Ladies of Liberia, the Emmy-nominated They Killed Sister Dorothy, and the Oscar-nominated The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner. Junge's film Saving Face, on acid attacks in Pakistan, won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short and the Emmy for Best Documentary of 2012. His most recent work includes the Tribeca premiered Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary, and Being Evel, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

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