Liyana Opens October 10 in NYC

Abramorama has picked up the documentary Liyana from directors Amanda Kopp and Aaron Kopp. The film is set to open in New York City on Oct. 10 with a theatrical release slated for select cities in the following weeks.

Produced in association with Shine Global, executive produced by Westworld‘s Thandie Newton, and produced by Academy Award-winning director Daniel Junge (Saving Face), the film features South African storyteller Gcina Mhlophe guiding us in a narrative about five orphaned children from Swaziland who collaborate to craft a collective fairytale drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their titular fictional character, Liyana, is brought to life in gorgeous animated artwork from artist Shofela Coker. 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.

“It is one of the purest and most powerful examples of the importance and purpose of storytelling,” executive producer Thandie Newton told USA TODAY. “The boys and girls in the orphanage chose a girl to be their protagonist. … They wanted the most lowly to be the one to conquer their fears, as that’s the most extraordinary outcome.”

Newton says she was attracted to the documentary in part because of what the story can mean for African children. “If this young girl can be victorious, then it’s possible for every one of us to overcome our fears,” she says. “Liyana is from rural Africa, and these kids have catapulted her onto the main stage of a place none of them ever dreamt they’d find themselves.

“It’s horribly rare to have African stories written by Africans, let alone African children. Stories like ‘Liyana’ make us realize that an orphan from rural Africa has the same dreams, imagination, hopes and potential as a more privileged child living in New York or Tokyo. ‘Liyana’ compels me to want to do everything I can to close the gap, and it will for audiences everywhere.”

Liyana will be screening at the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem, NYC starting on October 10th with more cities screenings to be announced.