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LIYANA is a genre-defying documentary that tells the story of five children in the Kingdom of Eswatini who turn past trauma into an original fable about a girl named Liyana who embarks on a perilous quest to save her young twin brothers. The film weaves her animated journey together with poetic documentary scenes to create an inspiring tale of perseverance and hope.

Executive produced by Emmy-winner Thandie Newton, and produced by Oscar-winner Daniel Junge, LIYANA features innovative animated artwork by Shofela Coker and an original score by Philip Miller. Critically acclaimed as exquisite, a staggering feature debut, and one of the year's very best, LIYANA has played at festivals around the world, including the British Film Institute's London Film Festival and MoMA's Doc Fortnight, and has won 35 jury and audience awards so far. The Sunday Times describes Aaron & Amanda Kopp's directorial debut as, part documentary, part animation, and pure magic.









"A lyrical work that’s as bright and captivating as it is poignant."

– Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter


"Gorgeous… unlike any documentary you've ever seen."

– Devan Coogan, Entertainment Weekly


“True Art”

“Shot through with equal parts trauma and hope”

– Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times


"Brilliant… The world desperately needs to see more stories like this."

– Iquo B Essien, Shadow & Act


"A joyous, affecting, and incredible piece of documentary filmmaking.”

– Chris Olson, UK Film Review



“Shows the optimism and self-awareness that can come from creativity.”

– The New York Times


“As tough as the subject matter may get at times, the film is guaranteed to be an uplifting one for viewers of all ages” 

– Matt Fagerholm, Roger Ebert


"Masterful, authentic, & bold"

– Sandisile Tshuma, World Pulse


“This is the kind of film that will leave you smiling through tears.

The overwhelming feeling you get from watching “Liyana” is one of hope.”

– Betsy Bozdech, Alliance of Women Film Journalists 


“Necessary, and heroic, and powerfully healing”

– Amy Glynn, Paste Magazine


“A predominance of sunshine and small, smiling faces in its articulation of tough times has understandably made this summer-bright doc a hit.”

– Variety


“A staggering feature debut...

LIYANA stands a strong chance of making Oscar buzz headway throughout the year.”

– Joseph Braverman, Awards Circuit



 “A joyous celebration of storytelling & animation.”

– The Sprout


"The standout film for me this year."

– Lisa Adams, Huffington Post


“Made me stare at the screen in wide eyed wonder… An absolute must see”

– Steve Kopian – Unseen Films


“LIYANA is heart-wrenching without being traumatizing, empowering without being heavy-handed, and altogether gorgeous and surprising and satisfying.”

- Stuart Miller, Screen Anarchy


“What emerges is both poignant and magical, and pure cinema.”

– Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer To Nail


“The plot is as thrilling as any classic adventure, unfolding with verve and suspense.”

– Staci Layne Wilson, OPEEQO 


“A new female-led African myth”

– Laura Berger, Women and Hollywood


“A universal tale so richly realized… Truly special and compelling to watch."

– H. Nelson Tracey, Cinemacy


“A gorgeous tale of loss and light… 5 out of 5 stars”

– Nthabiseng Mosieane, City Press


“It is a celebration of the creative act; the power of the imagination when given a chance to flower; and the potent connections among storytelling, the human experience, and culture.”

– Alan Gerstle, Critical Movie Critics


“Liyana has some of the most beautiful animated scenes I have ever seen…

 I would pay to see it again.”

– CW Atlanta


“An extraordinary testament to the transformative power of storytelling”

– John Moore Theater Coverage


“The ‘hero’ at the heart of Liyana is a female symbol of strength, resilience and bravery.”

Felicia Feaster, Burnaway ATL


“A wondrous accomplishment.”

– Nick Rogers, Midwest Film Journal


 “This unique film is powerful, inspiring, innovative, and beautiful”

“It's impossible not to fall in love.”

Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media


“Frontrunner… Uplifting and heartwarming”

– Debbie Lynn Elias, Behind The Lens Online


“Tapping into territory many of its genre counterparts wouldn’t dare to enter, LIYANA in an inspirational cinematic experience that celebrates the catharsis art can provide in dark times.”

– Cookie N Screen


“This will be a major audience favorite…

No one will leave a showing of Liyana with a heavy heart.”

– Eric A. Gordon, People’s World


“Defies your expectations of a documentary at every turn.”

– Adam Kautzer, Film Dispenser


“Liyana Weaves a Stunning Folk Tale From Trauma”

“The visually innovative documentary is a testament to the healing power of storytelling.”

– Sophia Stewart, Nonfics


“The infectious energy of a child’s storytelling is put on touching display in LIYANA”

“If the rule is ‘show, don’t tell,’ then LIYANA is a success.”

  – Karen Han, LA Weekly


“easily one of the best films of the year.”

– Sarah Buddery, Filmoria

“The children’s stories alone would have been compelling, but illustrating them in this medium adds even more depth, nuance and emotion.”

– Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times


"Part documentary, part animation, pure magic"

– Shelley Seid, Sunday Times

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