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The Film


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The Film


 
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SYNOPSIS

A Swazi girl embarks on a dangerous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. This animated African tale is born in the imaginations of five orphaned children in Swaziland who collaborate to tell a story of perseverance drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character’s journey is interwoven with poetic and observational documentary scenes to create a genre-defying celebration of collective storytelling.

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

LIYANA is a film that gives our young storytellers the stage. We hope the audience will be enchanted by the children's imaginations in the same way that we are. We believe this film will play a role in deconstructing stereotypes and challenging the prevalent, simplistic narrative of African orphans. LIYANA pays tribute to my childhood in the Kingdom of Swaziland. And at its heart, the film is a meditation on the transformative power of storytelling – an ode to the creative spirit.

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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 recently seen in NBC’s The Slap, and for her role in HBO’s Westworld she received a Critics’ Choice Award and a Golden Globe nomination. 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 recently seen in NBC’s The Slap, and for her role in HBO’s Westworld she received a Critics’ Choice Award and a Golden Globe nomination. 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.”

SHOFELA COKER                  ANIMATION ARTIST Shofela Coker is an illustrator and art director specializing in comics, digital sculpting, and look development. He 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, he worked as a character artist at Robomodo, Sony Online Entertainment, and as an art director at Jam City in San Diego, CA. He and his siblings formed the Coker Co-op, a collective that creates comics, sculptures, and digital media. Shof is committed to telling distinctly African stories with a unique style.          

SHOFELA COKER                  ANIMATION ARTIST

Shofela Coker is an illustrator and art director specializing in comics, digital sculpting, and look development. He 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, he worked as a character artist at Robomodo, Sony Online Entertainment, and as an art director at Jam City in San Diego, CA. He and his siblings formed the Coker Co-op, a collective that creates comics, sculptures, and digital media. Shof is committed to telling distinctly African stories with a unique style.

 

 

 

 

 

AARON KOPP    DIRECTOR/PRODUCER Aaron Kopp is an award-winning filmmaker and national Emmy-nominated cinematographer who grew up in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Aaron shot and co- produced the Academy Award-winning documentary about acid attacks in Pakistan, Saving Face. He was also cinematographer for the Sundance Audience Award winning and Academy Award nominated film, The Hunting Ground, about sexual assault on college campuses. He has worked across Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, North America, and the South Pacific on films for HBO, Netflix Originals, National Geographic, Discovery, UK Channel4, CBS, CNN, and PBS. Aaron 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 national Emmy-nominated cinematographer who grew up in the Kingdom of Swaziland. Aaron shot and co- produced the Academy Award-winning documentary about acid attacks in Pakistan, Saving Face. He was also cinematographer for the Sundance Audience Award winning and Academy Award nominated film, The Hunting Ground, about sexual assault on college campuses. He has worked across Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, North America, and the South Pacific on films for HBO, Netflix Originals, National Geographic, Discovery, UK Channel4, CBS, CNN, and PBS. Aaron was awarded grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the Doha Film Institute for his upcoming feature directorial debut, Liyana.

                                          

 

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. Amanda’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 14 years and directed her first feature length film, Liyana, with funds from Shine Global and Fork Films.      

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. Amanda’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 14 years and directed her first feature length film, Liyana, with funds from Shine Global and Fork Films.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

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.

 

 

 

 

DAVIS COOMBE                                  EDITOR Davis Coombe is an award winning editor, producer, and writer. His two most recent films, Casting JonBenet and Chasing Coral both premiered at Sundance in 2017, where Chasing Coral won the audience award for best documentary. Netflix has acquired both films. Davis produced and edited Saving Face, which won the Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 2012. He also edited Chasing Ice, which premiered at Sundance in 2012 and was shortlisted for an Academy award. Davis co-wrote and edited Keep On Keepin’ On (shortlisted for an Academy Award) and A Lego Brickumentary which both premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. In 2013 he won two national Emmys for Editing and Best Documentary at the News and Documentary Emmys.  

DAVIS COOMBE                                  EDITOR

Davis Coombe is an award winning editor, producer, and writer. His two most recent films, Casting JonBenet and Chasing Coral both premiered at Sundance in 2017, where Chasing Coral won the audience award for best documentary. Netflix has acquired both films. Davis produced and edited Saving Face, which won the Oscar for Best Short Documentary in 2012. He also edited Chasing Ice, which premiered at Sundance in 2012 and was shortlisted for an Academy award. Davis co-wrote and edited Keep On Keepin’ On (shortlisted for an Academy Award) and A Lego Brickumentary which both premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. In 2013 he won two national Emmys for Editing and Best Documentary at the News and Documentary Emmys.

 

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-winning (and 2-time nominated) and Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker. His first feature-length film, Chiefs, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival and broadcast nationally on PBS. Iron Ladies of Liberia premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and aired on over 50 broadcasters worldwide including PBS and the BBC. They Killed Sister Dorothy won the Audience and Grand Jury Prizes at the South by Southwest Film Festival before broadcasting on HBO and earning a 2010 Emmy nomination for Best Investigative Journalism. Daniel’s film The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short in 2010. His film, Saving Face, won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. Daniel’s two most recent films – Being Evel and A Lego Brickumentary premiered respectively at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals and opened in theaters in 2015.               

DANIEL JUNGE                      PRODUCER

Daniel Junge is an Oscar-winning (and 2-time nominated) and Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker. His first feature-length film, Chiefs, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival and broadcast nationally on PBS. Iron Ladies of Liberia premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and aired on over 50 broadcasters worldwide including PBS and the BBC. They Killed Sister Dorothy won the Audience and Grand Jury Prizes at the South by Southwest Film Festival before broadcasting on HBO and earning a 2010 Emmy nomination for Best Investigative Journalism. Daniel’s film The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short in 2010. His film, Saving Face, won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. Daniel’s two most recent films – Being Evel and A Lego Brickumentary premiered respectively at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals and opened in theaters in 2015.               

LISA SCHEJOLA AKIN           EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Lisa Schejola Akin is an activist and philanthropist and a dedicated supporter of women’s causes. She has been serving on Eve Ensler’s V-Day Board since 2011 and has been coordinating the One Billion Rising movement in Miami, where she resides, since its launch in 2012. The campaign has become the biggest worldwide mass action to end violence against women in human history. She co-founded Casa Valentina, a Miami-based organization that provides young adults who age out of foster care at age 18 with safe, affordable housing and the support services they need to become functional, independent adults. Lisa has recently become interested in supporting documentary films focused around human empowerment. Lisa’s professional background is in marketing and public relations. Born and raised in Italy, she is a graduate of Georgetown University and holds an MBA from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management. Lisa and her husband Jeffrey have two children.

LISA SCHEJOLA AKIN           EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Lisa Schejola Akin is an activist and philanthropist and a dedicated supporter of women’s causes. She has been serving on Eve Ensler’s V-Day Board since 2011 and has been coordinating the One Billion Rising movement in Miami, where she resides, since its launch in 2012. The campaign has become the biggest worldwide mass action to end violence against women in human history. She co-founded Casa Valentina, a Miami-based organization that provides young adults who age out of foster care at age 18 with safe, affordable housing and the support services they need to become functional, independent adults. Lisa has recently become interested in supporting documentary films focused around human empowerment. Lisa’s professional background is in marketing and public relations. Born and raised in Italy, she is a graduate of Georgetown University and holds an MBA from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management. Lisa and her husband Jeffrey have two children.

JOHN CAULKINS                                   CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER John has participated in the making of dozens of films, primarily arts documentaries. Notable are the Oscar-shortlisted “Keep On Keepin' On” (2014) and “Rolling Papers” (2015). Upcoming releases include “Leaning Into the Wind” about the artist Andy Goldsworthy as well as films on Afrika Bambaataa, Raymond Myles, John Gary Williams, DEVO and Bill Drummond. A Denver native, John now spends more time in Los Angeles.

JOHN CAULKINS                                   CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

John has participated in the making of dozens of films, primarily arts documentaries. Notable are the Oscar-shortlisted “Keep On Keepin' On” (2014) and “Rolling Papers” (2015). Upcoming releases include “Leaning Into the Wind” about the artist Andy Goldsworthy as well as films on Afrika Bambaataa, Raymond Myles, John Gary Williams, DEVO and Bill Drummond. A Denver native, John now spends more time in Los Angeles.

ABIGAIL E. DISNEY                               CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Abigail E. Disney is a filmmaker, philanthropist and the CEO and president of Fork Films. Disney’s longtime passion for women’s issues and peace building culminated in producing her first film, PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL (winner, Best Documentary Feature, Tribeca Film Festival 2008). She then executive produced the five-part PBS series, WOMEN, WAR & PEACE.  Her executive producing and producing credits include Fork Films supported films 1971, CITIZEN KOCH, FAMILY AFFAIR, HOT GIRLS WANTED, THE INVISIBLE WAR (2012 Academy Award Nominee, Best Documentary Feature), RETURN and SUN COME UP (2011 Academy Award Nominee, Best Documentary Short). Her most recent projects include Fork Films original productions THE TRIALS OF SPRING, which she executive produced, and THE ARMOR OF LIGHT, her directorial debut. Disney is also the founder and president of Peace is Loud, a nonprofit organization that uses media and live events to highlight the stories of women who are stepping up for peace and resisting violence in their communities. Photo: Joey L

ABIGAIL E. DISNEY                               CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Abigail E. Disney is a filmmaker, philanthropist and the CEO and president of Fork Films. Disney’s longtime passion for women’s issues and peace building culminated in producing her first film, PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL (winner, Best Documentary Feature, Tribeca Film Festival 2008). She then executive produced the five-part PBS series, WOMEN, WAR & PEACE.  Her executive producing and producing credits include Fork Films supported films 1971, CITIZEN KOCH, FAMILY AFFAIR, HOT GIRLS WANTED, THE INVISIBLE WAR (2012 Academy Award Nominee, Best Documentary Feature), RETURN and SUN COME UP (2011 Academy Award Nominee, Best Documentary Short). Her most recent projects include Fork Films original productions THE TRIALS OF SPRING, which she executive produced, and THE ARMOR OF LIGHT, her directorial debut. Disney is also the founder and president of Peace is Loud, a nonprofit organization that uses media and live events to highlight the stories of women who are stepping up for peace and resisting violence in their communities.

Photo: Joey L

GINI RETICKER                                     CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Chief Creative Officer of Fork Films, Gini Reticker is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning director and producer with a distinguished career that spans more than 20 years.  In 2014, she directed THE TRIALS OF SPRING, which premiered at the Human Rights Watch Festival and was accompanied by six shorts that launched on The New York Times. The film chronicles a young woman’s journey from an Egyptian village to international human rights activist.  Reticker also directed PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL, the inspiring story of Liberian women who helped end the civil war. Reticker also directed THE HEART OF THE MATTER, produced the Academy Award nominated short film ASYLUM, and the Emmy-nominated A DECADE UNDER THE INFLUENCE.  She created WOMEN, WAR & PEACE, for PBS, executive produced Abigail Disney’s THE ARMOR OF LIGHT and produced THE BETRAYAL (NERAKHOON) - nominated for both an Academy Award and an Independent Spirit Award. She served as an Executive Producer on Fork Films supported 1971, ALIAS RUBY BLADE, CITIZEN KOCH, HOT GIRLS WANTED, and SHE’S BEAUTIFUL WHEN SHE’S ANGRY. Photo: Guido Venitucci Photography

GINI RETICKER                                     CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Chief Creative Officer of Fork Films, Gini Reticker is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning director and producer with a distinguished career that spans more than 20 years.  In 2014, she directed THE TRIALS OF SPRING, which premiered at the Human Rights Watch Festival and was accompanied by six shorts that launched on The New York Times. The film chronicles a young woman’s journey from an Egyptian village to international human rights activist.  Reticker also directed PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL, the inspiring story of Liberian women who helped end the civil war. Reticker also directed THE HEART OF THE MATTER, produced the Academy Award nominated short film ASYLUM, and the Emmy-nominated A DECADE UNDER THE INFLUENCE.  She created WOMEN, WAR & PEACE, for PBS, executive produced Abigail Disney’s THE ARMOR OF LIGHT and produced THE BETRAYAL (NERAKHOON) - nominated for both an Academy Award and an Independent Spirit Award. She served as an Executive Producer on Fork Films supported 1971, ALIAS RUBY BLADE, CITIZEN KOCH, HOT GIRLS WANTED, and SHE’S BEAUTIFUL WHEN SHE’S ANGRY.

Photo: Guido Venitucci Photography

      ©AJK Film LLC