Wed Feb 27, 2019 – 5:30 pm | Domenico’s
Sat Mar 2, 2019 – 2:30 pm | Domenico’s


Celebrating Women in Film | BIFF 2019Directed by Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp
Documentary Feature
USA | 77 min | 2017

Under the guidance of acclaimed South African storyteller, Gcina Mhlophe, five orphaned children from Swaziland collaborate to craft a collective fairytale drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character, Liyana, is brought to life in innovative animated artwork as she embarks on a perilous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. The children’s real and imagined worlds begin to converge, and they must choose what kind of story they will tell – in fiction and in their own lives.

This genre-defying film weaves an original animated hero’s journey with poetic documentary scenes to create an inspiring tale of perseverance. LIYANA is a tribute to creativity, the strength of the human spirit, and the healing power storytelling.

Critically acclaimed, and executive produced by Emmy-winning actress, Thandie Newton, LIYANA has won more than 30 jury and audience awards and screened at more than 100 film festivals around the world including the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival and MoMA’s Doc Fortnight.

LIYANA Movie Poster

Aaron Kopp, DirectorAaron Kopp

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 feature directorial debut, Liyana, which has won more than 20 awards at international festivals including the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary at the LA Film Festival and the Knight Documentary Achievement Award.

Amanda Kopp, DirectorAmanda Kopp

Amanda Kopp is an award-winning filmmaker, 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. For her feature directorial debut, Liyana, she was awarded funding from Shine Global and Fork Films and was the recipient of the 2018 Emerging Female Filmmaker Award from the Oxford Film Festival. Liyana’s festival and award highlights include the Grand Prize Award at both the Heartland Film Festival and the New York International Children’s Film Festival, as well as screening at the BFI London Film Festival and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Film Information

Directors: Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp
Country: USA
Year: 2017
Language:  English
Runtime: 77 min.
Rated: PG


Producer: Amanda Kopp, Aaron Kopp, Daniel Junge, Sakheni Dlamini
Key Cast: Gcina Mhlophe
Editor: Aaron Kopp
Animation Artist: Shofela Coker
Executive Producer: Thandie Newton, Lisa Schejola Akin, Susan Maclaury, Albie Hecht
Co-Producer: Bridget Pickering
Original Music: Philip Miller

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BIFF | Beloit International Film Festival