Mohammed Harib is one of the directors of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, focusing on the chapter of Good & Evil. From Dubai, Harib brings an extra dimension to the animated film, with directors from all over the globe inputting into the film. Famed for his work with Freej, an animated series where characters that have been brought up in Dubai see the ever expanding and diverse growth of the city, Harib explains that Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet is deep-seated in his roots and that Gibran’s work speaks out to all of us.
What is your role in Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet?
I am one of eight segment directors. Each of us directs a chapter of the poem into the animated film. The eight directors came together to basically provide an individual view and merge them for the film.
And how was it that you were chosen to be one of the directors?
The producers wanted to source talent from across the globe to give certain perspectives on the poems to add extra flavour to the movie by having multiple viewpoints and understandings on the writings of Kahlil Gibran. Many of the directors have been Oscar nominated and Oscar winners and they wanted an Arabic take on the work.
Was the Good & Evil chapter one you particularly wanted?
I was very pleased to get it. Like a lot of his work, there is a real synergy between the two opposites. Who are we to judge? Something that might look good on the surface could very well be evil; and something else may look evil on the cover but may actually be very good. I think, throughout Kahlil Gibran’s work, he asks, ‘who are we to judge people?’ There is a beautiful poetry and philosophy in that.
Were you well aware of Kahlil Gibran’s work before you started the project?
His works are very well-known worldwide, especially in the Arab world, but it’s not something you’ll necessarily be taught at school. Because of this, you really have to go out of your way to find out about his work and that is why I think it is great that this movie will give people a new way to enjoy his work.
Personally, I have read his work and have seen his paintings but it is only really now that I get to understand and appreciate his work really well because of the time I invested to make this piece.
So you got involved in the project because of your passion for his work?
Well I got involved in the project because it is an animation project and it gave me the chance to work with top people in film such as Roger Allers, Salma Hayek and Tomm Moore, and the Doha Film Institute. The rostrum of talent I am working alongside is extremely exciting and to be a part of that bunch is great. And to be a part of Kahlil Gibran’s work is amazing as this is the first time his work has been translated into a visual medium.
Your animated series Freej is extremely popular. Did you feel that this film offered you a change in direction?
To be honest I am working on several animation projects at the moment, but they all take time. Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet took four years. It’s a nice departure when you get to work on different projects that are not in the realm of Freej. Being on a new project gives a new professional perspective on your work and the knowledge gained can be put into practice when you come back to your old projects.
At the Ajyal Youth Film Institute, the film is going to be judged by children and young adults. Do you think they make better judges because they don’t have an agenda?
It is certainly a different kind of critique. Maybe there won’t be as much exploration into the theories you implement but the younger audience will look at the fun elements of the film and probably the colours and I think this movie has a message for all generations so I hope the children can enjoy all the visuals that we have created and learn from the poems. If we manage that then I think we have created something special.