He Named Me Malala
Directed by Davis Guggenheim
The 2015 shortlisted documentary He Named Me Malala is an intimate portrait of Malala Yousafzai, the teenage girl who survived being shot in the face for her outspoken protest of the Taliban’s ban on girls’ educations. She has become a world-renowned advocate for women’s educational rights and the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The documentary is an intimate look into the life of the Pakistani girl named after a mythical revolutionary, who is nearly killed by the Taliban for wanting an education. We are familiar with the energy of the Taliban, with social media News Feeds highlighting their heinous activities around the world: ultra-violent, militant, fervent, terrifying, unrelenting, fever-pitched extremism. But we aren’t taken into that familiar place in this film. Instead, we are immersed in the tremendous spirit of this extraordinary young woman. We experience the world as she does, through beautifully animated stories of her family’s time in Swat Valley. The fact that the film is brimming with the experience of her genuine good cheer, sweet charm, and intelligent humor makes it a testament to her heroism. We find a modern day real life super hero in a time where anti-heroes are more easily trusted.
He Named Me Malala immerses us in Malala’s and in doing so demonstrates why she is extraordinary. Malala is a teenage girl who has committed a miraculous, extraordinary feat: after being shot in the face by an organization ruled by insanity and über-violent reactivity, she has become a sane, healthy, well-adjusted young woman on a just mission. In a time where an average person not being hunted by a terrorist group finds all of those things are hard to come by, its quiet charm should not be underestimated. The Taliban is right to fear empowerment. In He Named Me Malala, the young girl from Swat Valley clearly triumphs over terrorism when her passion for education ignites a global phenomenon.