Albie Hecht’s Shine Global Backing Swaziland Orphan Story ‘Liyana’

Albie Hecht’s Shine Global has come on board to back the animated/documentary film “Liyana,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Shine Global co-founders Susan MacLaury and longtime television executive Hecht are joining “Liyana” as executive producers. The film is set at an orphans home in Swaziland.

The 11-year-old nonprofit, which specializes in children-focused stories of resilience, sold two documentaries this year — “The Wrong Light” to Cinema Guild and its Sundance documentary “The Eagle Huntress” to Sony Pictures Classics. There were more than a dozen producers and exec producers on “Huntress.”

“Liyana,” directed by first time feature filmmakers Aaron Kopp and Amanda Kopp, focuses on five children aged 10 to 13 as they participate in a workshop led by storyteller Gcina Mhlophe in which the children collage together an original character named Liyana. The children describe a violent attack at Liyana’s home and a dangerous quest into the wilderness — drawing parallels between Liyana’s fate and that of the young storytellers.

“Liyana” aims to encourage young people to make their voices heard, and to unite their communities as they look for world-changing solutions within themselves.

The Kopps have worked as co-producers and cinematographers on the Oscar-winning documentary “Saving Face” and the recent Sundance film “The Hunting Ground.”

“We immediately fell in love with this project,” says Shine’s executive director Susan MacLaury. “The focus on the transformational power of storytelling for these children is a clear fit with our mission. Combine that with the beautiful cinematography and outstanding animation from rising talent Shofela Coker and we couldn’t wait to be involved.”

Shine Global has produced eight films including “War/Dance,” a 2008 Academy Award nominee for best documentary, and “Inocente,” the Academy Award winner for best documentary short subject in 2013.

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