The producer of this year’s most intriguing and visually eclectic animated feature may well end up being the Mexican/Arabic actress Salma Hayek, who screened a work-in-progress version of her pet project, The Prophet, last week in Cannes. Based on the prose poetry of beloved early-20th century Lebanese writer Kahlil Gibran, the $12-million feature was supervised by director Roger Allers (The Lion King, Open Season).
Not only did Hayek make the novel decision to produce a philosophically-driven animated feature with religious undertones, she also decided to make it hand-drawn. It’s almost as if she wanted no one to see it. I kid, I kid. But seriously, the film doesn’t have a distributor in the United States yet, and that’s telling of the irrationally hostile environment for hand-drawn feature animation in this country. It’s certainly not for a lack of quality; the stills gallery below and the names of the artists involved should leave little doubt that this will be a gorgeous-looking film. [UPDATE: The film isn’t entirely hand-drawn. Parts of the film are toon-shaded CG.]
Hayek recruited nine filmmakers to create different parts of the film in their own unique styles. “The more different they are, the better, because it’s a surprise,” she told Variety. “You don’t know where you’re going to go next. There’s such a freedom with the film.”