It was quite a turnout for a screening of Participant Media and GKids’ “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Wednesday, as Hollywood glitterati turned out on a muggy evening for Salma Hayek‘s animated passion project. Dustin Hoffman, Colin Farrell, director Jim Sheridan, America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and will.i.am were among the guests mingling with producer-star Hayek, co-stars Quvenzhane Wallis and Alfred Molina, director Roger Allers, Participant’s Jeff Skoll and GKids’ Eric Beckman.
Hayek hopes the film resonates with audiences of all ages and encourages parents to bring their children, even if they think the subject matter may be too advanced for them. “I tell everyone to bring their children, because they will surprise you. Sometimes we underestimate their intellect and they are not exposed to things that challenge them.”
When her own daughter, Valentina Pinault, 7, saw the film, Hayek said she was surprised by her reaction. “She wrote a poem and it’s about how we are spirits and therefore nothing can contain us or incarcerate us. We are free to play and we never die,” she said.
Hayek has long been pushing for the film to be made. “I think that with everything that’s happening in the world, it’s important to expose ourselves to things that touch our humanity. The words of Kahlil Gibran touch on things we all experience: love, children, death, eating and drinking. When people see the film, so many people cry, and I know that we’ve done well because we know that they are moved,” She said.
“It’s a movie about connection. It’s a movie about freedom. It talks a lot about things that are contemporary issues, freedom of speech, a little girl finding her own voice. So many things to expose children too,” she added.
The film features eight vignettes based on Gibran’s poems interwoven with an original story by writer-director Allers about the precocious daughter of a woman who cleans house for the prophet Mustafa, who is under house arrest for his writings and art. Allers got to help put together an international roster of renowned animators, including Bill Plympton and Tomm Moore, to create the vignettes.
“That was one of the things that attracted me to this project — working with all of these people around the world,” he said. “We really wanted the visions of all these people. And at the same time, it was a little scary because we were all working simultaneously. And I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to stitch this together into a flowing, seamless movie?'”
There are 26 poems in Gibran’s book, and Allers chose eight to feature in the film. “There were three I knew had to be done — love, marriage and children. And the other ones that I chose, I looked for things that would feel organic within the line of the story.”