The long-awaited animated rendition of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet will be screened in Qatar this December, as part of the second Ajyal Youth Film Festival’s closing night gala.
The 84-minute film will be screened for first time today at the Toronto International Film Festival, while its Dec. 6 premiere in Qatar will mark its Middle East debut.
An adaptation of eight of Gibran’s musings on life, the movie will be divided into chapters (like Gibran’s books) about love, work, good and evil, death, freedom and marriage.
The vignettes will be woven together with an overarching story about a young girl (voiced by Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Quvenzhané Wallis) who attempts to free an imprisoned poet (Liam Neeson).
The movie was directed by Roger Allers (from The Lion King) and funded in part by the Doha Film Institute.
In a statement, producer 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.”
DFI first announced its involvement with The Prophet in 2012, saying it would be co-financing the film with Participant Media, MyGroup Lebanon, FFA Private Bank, JRW Entertainment and Code Red Productions.
The institute became involved with the project under the leadership of its first executive director, Amanda Palmer, who left in July 2012.
She was replaced by Abdulaziz Al Khater, a Qatari businessman who was tasked with pivoting the government-funded institute away from holding the glitzy Doha Tribeca Film Festivals of years past to focusing on developing young regional talent.
After 18 months as CEO, Al Khater left DFI last month, and Ajyal’s director Fatma Al-Remaihi has temporarily assumed his role.
In a statement, Al-Remaihi 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. We are proud to have been involved as a co-financier from the very early stages to bring this visionary work to the screen, and we are delighted to host its premiere in the Middle East during the Ajyal Youth Film Festival.
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.”
Ajyal film festival
The second Ajyal festival will run from Dec. 1 to Dec. 6 at Katara Cultural Village.
Though attendance was low at the first Ajyal festival, many families and Qataris could be seen at the event, which ran with a Japanese animation theme.
The theme for this year’s festival has yet to be announced.
Meanwhile, DFI is also planning another big event in the coming months – the inaugural Qumra Festival for first and second-time film directors.
Qumra was originally supposed to debut in March 2014, but was postponed to sometime in 2015. That announcement came shortly after some 40 DFI employees were laid off in January.