Salma Hayek says animation key for "Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet"

LOS ANGELES: Salma Hayek's feature film "Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet" opens in US cinemas next month and the actress and co-producer says that animation was key in adapting the 1923 book for the screen.

The movie, which draws on the Lebanese writer's poetic essays, tells the story of a headstrong girl, Almitra, who makes friends with poet Mustafa - in jail for his work which has been deemed dangerous.

Hayek, who also provides the voice for Almitra's mother, Kamila, told Reuters the story was best told through animation.

"You can express more in a sensation through the art and the music and the poetry," she said at the film's premiere in Los Angeles on Wednesday night.

"The movie is about freedom, and animation gave us the freedom to be more faithful to the theme of the film."

Academy Award nominees Liam Neeson and Quvenzhane Wallis provide the voices of Mustafa and Almitra in the film.

Hayek, whose grandfather was Lebanese, travelled to Gibran's birthplace, Bcharre village, in April to pay tribute.

"It is such an iconic book," she said. "It has sold more than 120 million copies around the world. It is so beloved, so it was important to get it right."

"Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet" opens in New York and Los Angeles on Aug. 7. A wider US release is set for later in the month.