Liyana – Film Review

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Directors: Aaron & Amanda Kopp
77mins | Documentary, Animation | PG

There has been a lot of buzz lately over who can represent the story of another person. Can another person take on the burden of telling another’s tale? What right is given to them? Does it really matter?

Without any wiff of these concerns, comes Liyana by Aaron and Amanda Kopp. This Kick Starter funded film is a stunner, which perfectly balances documentary with animation. The five orphans chosen to tell the tale of Liyana, tinged with their own heartbreaking themes from real life, is enough to have most blubbering. It’s the ultimate catharsis for these young people, who have lost parents to AIDS, had family abducted by human traffickers and also endure the harsh Swaziland environment.

Actress and storyteller Gcina Mhlope aids the children in what Liyana should face in their tale. Liyana and her sidekick bull, go on their own mythical journey to rescue her twin brothers, that could easily be from a branch of African mythology. Bad things that have happened to the children’s are transformed here to symbolise beasts and other scares. The animation is lush, with CGI characters, superimposed with more apparently hand-drawn backdrops. Whilst Loving Vincent was constantly in flux through its animation, Liyana is statically beautiful, with each tableau-like an exquisite painting of its own kind.

With only one screening of is film at my local cinema, it really should be seen by many more people.

It’s short and sweet, which my review also tries to capture.

A joyous celebration of storytelling & animation.

Rating: *****

Film still credit: Entrainment Weekly

Related Articles:

Film Review: Loving Vincent

Review: Cardiff Animation Nights – Late Night Work Club Special @ Chapter

Review: Cardiff Animation Nights – Lotte Reiniger Special @ Chapter

Photo Credit: Entertainment Weekly

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