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The Hollywood Reporter
A lyrical work that’s as bright and captivating as it is poignant.
As tough as the subject matter may get at times, the film is guaranteed to be an uplifting one for viewers of all ages, with its emphasis placed on the joy of its subjects, whether it be in their everyday life or in the midst of their creative process.
It never hurts to be reminded of how powerful storytelling actually is.
It’s a simple but stirring tale, lent character by the boys’ endearingly eager telling and atmospheric texture by Coker’s inspired visual interpretation.
Los Angeles Times
The children’s stories alone would have been compelling, but illustrating them in this medium adds even more depth, nuance and emotion.
The animation that brings Liyana to life, created by Shofela Coker, is gorgeous, but the reason it resonates has everything to do with the way it’s woven into footage of the children telling Liyana’s story or going about their everyday business.
The Film Stage
A unique hybrid wherein fact is projected through a prism of fiction as both a mechanism to educate outsiders and heal from within.
Liyana is still a wonder, and the story the kids cook up themselves every bit as epic as the one Disney plagiarized for “The Lion King.” This effort turns out so delightful that somebody should hire these children as focus group consultants the next time Hollywood wants to tell a tale of Africa.
Though Liyana often feels more like an exercise in storytelling than a complete narrative, it is heartwarming to see the kids light up as they work together to create art out of their hardship.
The New York Times
By addressing strife in Africa in a roundabout way, Liyana breaks free of the heaviness that can weigh down an issue-based documentary.
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