CANNES -- One of the more unexpected events at this year's Cannes Film Festival for me happened on Saturday night. I went to what I thought was going to be a screening, but which turned out instead to be a presentation hosted by Salma Hayek for the work-in-progress version of an animated anthology film based on "The Prophet," the internationally acclaimed book of poetry by Kahlil Gibran. Ultimately, we ended up seeing less than half of the film, but Hayek's enthusiasm and the finished footage that we did get to see made a strong case for not only how much this film means to her personally, but also what a beautifully crafted experience the end result promises to be.
If you're an animation fan, this is going to be a fascinating collection of voices and techniques from around the world, all in service of this beautiful, profound piece of work that has been punching holes in readers for fifty years now.
After being introduced, Hayek spoke about how she has made many films that have honored her Mexican heritage, but she's spent her entire career looking for the right project to honor her equally-important Lebanese heritage. Finding a film that spoke to her as an Arabic woman was no simple prospect. Consider how hard it is to find a good script for a woman of any background, and then magnify that difficulty exponentially. When she finally made the connection and saw the potential in "The Prophet," she set out to make what she considers a love letter to that side of who she is.