director David Guggenheim
Malala Yousafzai is 18 years old right now. She came to international prominence at the age of 15 when she was shot in the head by Pakastani Taliban assassin on October 9, 2012, who attempted to silence her for reports that she had been issuing to the BBC, daring to speak out that girls deserved a right to education, while the increasingly brutal and conservative group bombed schools and murdered anyone who dared to speak against them.
David Guggenheim’s documentary He Named Me Malala is not a great movie, though it tries to depict Malala as she is, a teenage girl from the Swat Valley of Pakistan who has survived a vicious attack and had to leave her home country. A girl who is adjusting to her life in Britain and as an international icon for women’s rights and children’s rights, all at such a tender age.
And this is the film’s value point, seeing and hearing Malala in her own words, with her family: her father who really imbued her with the strength and beliefs that seeded the person she has become, her mother a largely uneducated contrast to her father also adapting to her new life in the UK, her brothers, especially her youngest brother who is quite funny.
I picked this to watch with my kids because I thought it would be a story of interest (with which they were already familiar) but also to have some deeper experience to put with the story. It’s not a very satisfying documentary, but it still has power, most of which emanates directly from Malala herself. She is an amazing girl/woman, thrust onto the global stage. She is still so young, so much possibility in her life, so much that I would expect that she can and will do. I hope that she gets to achieve everything she hopes for.