Ajyal Youth Film Festival to host Mideast premiere of Gibran’s The Prophet

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The second Ajyal Youth Film Festival, presented by the Doha Film Institute, will host the Middle East premiere of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet as its closing night gala on December 6, it was announced yesterday.

The world premiere of the Salma Hayek-Pinault-produced film takes place today at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

An adaptation of Gibran’s beloved book, the film features animated sequences by award-winning directors from across the globe, including popular Gulf animator Mohamed Saeed Harib, who is in attendance at TIFF this week.

The narrative framework of the film is directed by Roger Allers (The Lion King), with the throughline interwoven with eight of Gibran’s lyrical and inspiring musings on the nature of life’s issues like love, work, good and evil, death, freedom and marriage.

The film is presented in eight animated chapters by renowned international artists, including Harib (Freej), Tomm Moore (The Secret of Kells), Michal Socha (Chick), Joan Gratz (Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase), Nina Paley (I Heart My Cat), Joann Sfar (Gainsbourg; A Heroic Life), Bill Plympton (Mutant Aliens) and Paul and Gaeton Brizzi (Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame).

Fatma al-Remaihi, acting CEO of the Doha Film Institute and director of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival, said: “Gibran’s The Prophet is a work of literature that arises from our Arab culture and that resonates throughout the Middle East and indeed, around the world. For generations, people young and old have been inspired by Gibran’s lyrical poetry and I’m sure this film will only broaden the tremendous appeal of his work.”

Salma Hayek-Pinault said: “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet is a beautiful book and very special to me as it was the book my grandfather kept at the side of his bed. As someone who celebrates the Lebanese part of my ancestry, I’ve been looking for a part to play where I could represent Arab women. This film is a love letter to this part of my heritage and so it is wonderful to be able to share it with families, children and a local Arab audience in Doha at the upcoming Ajyal Youth Film Festival in December.”

Harib, who directs the chapter “On Good and Evil”, said: “Gibran’s book explores so many of the complex issues of life and I am deeply honoured to be a part of the creative team responsible for bringing his poetry to the screen and to have worked alongside such a renowned group of animators.”

Featuring the voices of actors Liam Neeson (The Lego Movie), Hayek-Pinault (Frida), Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), John Krasinski (Monsters University), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) and Alfred Molina (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet boasts a score by Gabriel Yared (The English Patient), with additional music from songwriters Damien Rice, Oscar winner Glen Hansard, and Lis a Hannigan. The score also features cello solos by Grammy winner Yo-Yo Ma.

The second edition of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival will take place from December 1 to 6 at Katara, the Cultural Village.