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MéridaFest borrows treasures from “The Prophet”

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"The Prophet" is on loan from Mexico City for MéridaFest's celebration. Handout photo
“The Prophet” is on loan from Mexico City for MéridaFest’s celebration. Handout photo

Mérida, Yucatán — Watercolors, oil paintings, drawings and manuscripts by Lebanese poet Kahlil Gabran (1883-1931) are on view starting Jan. 23, as part of the MéridaFest celebration of the city’s 474th anniversary.

Gibran’s “The Prophet” is among the most popular volumes of poetry ever written, selling over 100 million copies in 40 languages since its publication in 1923.

For the uninitiated, a good introduction to Gibran’s work is an animated movie that makes use of Gibran’s poetry. As it happens, the film “The Prophet” will be easier to find in the days leading to the Olimpo exhibit for MéridaFest.

Salma Hayek, left; actress Loreto Peralta; and actress and singer Sandra EcheverrÌa, at a news conference Saturday to promote "The Prophet." AP Photo
Salma Hayek, left; actress Loreto Peralta; and actress and singer Sandra Echeverría, at a news conference Saturday to promote “The Prophet.” AP Photo

The exhibit coincidentally coincides with the on-demand and DVD release of the artful, 2015 Salma Hayek-produced animated movie. Hayek was in Mexico City yesterday for a screening of the film, which was an official selection at Cannes and made its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Written and directed by Roger Allers of “Lion King” fame, the film intersperses Gibran’s elegant poetry within stunning animated sequences by filmmakers and award-winning animators from around the world. Set in a Mediterranean seaside village, a widow, who is voiced by Salma Hayek, cleans house for an exiled artist and poet, played by Liam Neeson, and her free-spirited young daughter, played by Quvenzhané Wallis.

A scene from "The Prophet," which draws upon works on view at the Olimpo for MéridaFest. Handout photo
A scene from “The Prophet,” which draws upon works on view at the Olimpo for MéridaFest. Handout photo

In an interview with Reuters last year, Hayek described the film as a very personal project that bridges her Mexican and Lebanese heritage.

“Through this book I got to know my grandfather, through this book I got to have my grandfather teaching me about life,” she said. “For me this is a love letter to my heritage.”

The film will be released on-demand Jan. 19, and on Blu-ray/DVD Feb. 2.

"Spirit of the Centaurs" is part of the Gibran collection at Museo Soumaya in Mexico City.
“Spirit of the Centaurs” is part of the Gibran collection at Museo Soumaya in Mexico City.

The exhibit, which will be on view for three months, is an opportunity to learn more about a man who may have been known for literary works, but was also a great painter.

The collection is on loan from Mexico City’s Museo Soumaya.

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