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Liyana (2017)—SwazilandLiyana (2017)—Swaziland

This mixed genre film takes place in the former Kingdom of Swaziland, which was renamed Eswatini in 2018. It's a tiny country (population 1.1 million) in southern Africa that is the last absolute monarchy on earth, and one plagued by the many demons of underdevelopment and some of the highest HIV rates in the world. The movie is set in a home for Swazi orphans, where an acclaimed children's author named Gina Mhlophe leads a workshop on storytelling to help the children process their traumas. The film focuses on five of the children who create a fairytale adventure about a young heroine whom they name Liyana, who must go on a long journey to rescue her twin brothers. The real life documentary of the children at the orphanage is interspersed with an animated version of their fictional story about Liyana. The film premiered at the LA Film Festival, then went on to receive over 25 various awards and honors. At one point Liyana held an approval rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. I watched this film on Amazon Prime.

Dan Clendenin:

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