Film opening October 9 combines animation and vérité to reveal experience of orphaned children in Swaziland
"No other African nation is as affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic as Swaziland," according to the NGO SOS Children's Villages International. The organization estimates 100,000 thousand children are growing up as orphans in that country, their parents claimed by the disease.
Statistics can only tell so much about what life is like for so many of Swaziland's youngest and most vulnerable. The new documentary Liyana, winner of the grand jury prize for documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival, helps reveal the emotional impact of such loss on a group of orphaned children.
The film achieves that in unique fashion -- by documenting a group of kids as they create an ostensibly fictional tale of a fellow orphan they name Liyana. The filmmakers bring that story to life through animation by Nigerian artist Shofela Coker.
Liyana opens at New York's IFC Film Center on October 9, followed by the Maysles Documentary Center on October 10. The documentary will open later in the month in Los Angele and other cities. A trailer has just been released for the film. Watch it below.
Among the film's executive producers is actress Thandie Newton. Liyana was produced by Aaron and Amanda Kopp and Sakheni Dlamini who, along with many of the children seen in the film, attended the world premiere at the LA Film Festival last year. For photos from the premiere, see the story below.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.