Salma Hayek is back in the spotlight at the Cannes Film Festival where she is promoting a new film, The Prophet, an animated version of the legendary work written by Kahlil Gibran, who penned the philosophical writings in 1923. Gibran’s famous work is a collection of about 25 prose and poems and Hayek produced the film, focusing on eight specific works of the the book.
The project makes for an unlikely source for a film but for Hayek, 47, it was following a passion that that she and her production partners invested eight years negotiating for the rights to the book. Gibran was Lebanese and had bequeathed the book to his home village in Lebanon. Hayek’s grandfather was Lebanese as well, and she had been a fan of the book since reading it for the first time as a teenager, and admits her connection to the book is through her grandfather.
Hayek viewed the film as a personal and passionate project. It was that passion that fuels the process for her as she has taken on much of the producing of the film, including distribution, which has a budget of $12 million.
The film is still in production as Hayek is previewing it to Cannes audiences and features nine different directors from around the world and features voice work from Liam Neeson, John Krasinski and Hayek herself in a supporting role. The film is being done in 2-D with lighter colors. “Most animated movies are light,” Hayek said. “We wanted to something serious but not preachy.”
Lion King director Roger Allers was tapped by the Mexican born actress to head up the project that has Hayek back in the spotlight. Allers weaves all the stories through the character of a young girl who befriends a poet in prison. Hayek’s most acclaimed work to date as a producer was for Frida and Ugly Betty.
For the fans of Hayek who are still looking to see her in front of the camera there is good news as Hayek has been busy. She currently has five films in various stages of production including Everly, where Hayek stars as the ex of a mob boss who has sent assassins to track her down. The film is slated to be released later this year. She is currently in the middle of filming The Tale of Tales with John C. Reilly and just completed How to Make Love Like an Englishman with Jessica Alba. If that were not enough Hayek also has two movies in pre-production, including The Septembers of Shiraz with Adrien Brody and a children’s movie titled The Krostons.
These are busy times but Salma Hayek was back in the spotlight at Cannes over the weekend promoting The Prophet. Besides her promotional sting, Hayek, like most of the stars at Cannes, made a point of showing her support for more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls that were kidnapped by Boko Haram, by flashing a sign on the red carpet with the now famous slogan #bring back our girls.
By Mick Varner