In January 2019 I had the opportunity to see the movie “Liyana” and have a conversation with the producer, Aaron Kopp. The film is about a “Swazi girl who embarks on a dangerous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. This animated African tale is born in the imaginations of five orphaned children in Swaziland who collaborate to tell a story of perseverance drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character’s journey is interwoven with poetic and observational documentary scenes to create a genre-defying celebration of collective storytelling.” /Rotten Tomatoes/
My English professor, Cathy Ryan told me about this opportunity, so I took advantage of it. I’ll be honest, when I watched the trailer before the movie, I thought that Liyana was going to be just a “bad literature movie”, that I probably would not like, so I only went because I have never had the opportunity to see a film producer in real life before. After watching it, my thoughts were a bit different. Without the conversation with Aaron Kopp, I would have probably skipped the whole event, and I also have the same opinion after seeing the film.
What I did not like is that the movie is not special at all when it comes to its story, it is just another tale of a superhero. Also, it is sad that the kids who created the story include an alcoholic parent, death, and rape, but other than that, there is nothing much the viewer can do with this information. Furthermore, the animations were as disappointing as in the trailer because they were basically just pictures of an animated world.
Continuing with the positive side, the movie itself is better than the trailer. It amazes me that kids who have created their own superhero have such a vivid imagination. Although the whole story is a cliché, I am sure that younger kids have a much better imagination than most of the adults. The part of the event I enjoyed the most was the director’s talk after the film, because — as I wrote before — I have never had the opportunity to attend something like this before. I did not ask any questions, but others did, so we did not just sit quietly staring at each other, which is a plus. There were some good and also bad questions, but it was enjoyable to see that the director answered every question in a professional way. I was also surprised to see that Aaron Kopp is a relatively young filmmaker because I expected someone who was in their sixties.
In conclusion, I am satisfied that I attended this event, since the film gave me new insights to the African life and culture, and of course I had my first opportunity to meet a real Hollywood producer, which was an awesome experience by itself!