Eswatini Daily News
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Liyana gets raving reviews on New York Times

Liyana continues to put Swaziland on the global map, this follows yesterday when it scooped raving reviews from author and top movie critic Ben Kenigsberg of the American World-famous Newspaper, New York Times. In his reviews of the documentary, Ben emphasizes the ways in which Liyana might seem to be astray on its subject matter but also shows the optimism and self-awareness that can come from creativity. Liyana, a simple but inspiring tale follows the lives of five young orphans as they collectively intertwine an epic quest narrative about a resilient tribal girl ‘’Liyana’’, trying to reunite her family against daunting odds. The film colours in the challenging reality that shapes the children’s fiction- foremost among the AIDS epidemic that continues to blight the tiny nation of eSwatini.

Released earlier this year, the moving documentary has won over 22 international movie and film awards including the LA Film Festival’s documentary Prize. The 100% rated film seats on the second spot of the New York Times Movie rating list, and just behind the stirring drama titled “Happy Prince” which is a story that touches on the issues of homosexuality sin. Surprisingly enough Marvel’s newly produced superhero sci-fi action movie ‘’Venom” is humbly sitting on number four of the list. Author and movie critic Glenn Kenny criticized the movie’s ingratiating eccentricities as aren’t enough to really distinguish the movie from its superhero-movie brethren as it devolves into the usual expensive orgy of sound, fury and wisecracking. Nonetheless, the movie has been reportedly doing well on Box-office charts but not enough to beat Liyana’s innovative portrayal of a message. The film reviews were published yesterday and can be witnessed on the New York Times website.

Another raving review of the film was deliberated by Guy Lodge another top critic form Variety, who starts his reviews by applauding the oral storytelling and innovative animation fuse to illustrate the plight of Swazi Aids orphans in this (Liyana) audience-pleasing hybrid doc. He continues to single out how Liyana spotlights verdant natural beauty without overly romanticizing the problems of an impoverished country with the world’s highest HIV infection rate.

The film is directed and produced by Swazi born filmmakers Aaron alongside his sister Amanda Kopp, and depicts a strong message of hope and resilience, and the power of imagination. This year EMMY award-winning Zimbabwean-American Actress Thandie Newton took the role of executive producer beside Lisa Schejola to produce a film that gives such a rich and powerful new meaning to the phrase ‘kids’ story as Guy laments.


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