He Named Me Malala (documentary)
Direction: Davis Guggenheim
An intimate portrait of the fearless young advocate for women’s education, He Named Me Malala is one of the significant films of the year. Using extensive interviews with his subject and her family as well as newsreel footage, award-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) sheds new light on the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Malala was named by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, after the teenage Afghani woman who rallied Pashtun fighters against British troops in the 19th century.
Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for speaking out in support of girls’ education in Pakistan. Transferred to a hospital in Birmingham in the UK, she miraculously survived. We follow Malala as she builds a new life for herself, all the while continuing her campaign on behalf of girls who have been denied basic education.
Even as she speaks at international events and meets with global dignitaries, Malala leads a fairly conventional life at home — squabbling with her two younger brothers or gushing over her sports idols, cricketer Shahid Afridi and tennis player Roger Federer.
Unfortunately, director Guggenheim devotes a disproportionate amount of time to the animation interludes that illustrate crucial moments in the life of the courageous young woman. Also, there are several clumsily recreated sequences that seek to highlight the plight of underprivileged children in her hometown. But these are quibbles. Visiting children at a school in Africa, Malala is heard declaring that “school is my home”. It’s a sentiment that governments worldwide should heed.