As far as documentary subjects go, I can think of few quite as deserving of the big screen treatment, than Malala Yousafzai’s story. Having survived horrific injuries following a Taliban attack in her native Swat Valley, after being targeted for speaking up for a woman’s right to an education, the seventeen-year old is nothing short of inspirational.
An activist for female education, and a voice for young women all across the world, she’s the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner and has had the opportunity to meet some of the most important people in the world; all whilst dealing with school, homework and all the other everyday concerns of a teenager.
The film’s director, Davis Guggenheim – the Oscar award winning director of An Inconvenient Truth – seems particularly interested in these two sides of Malala’s life. When we’re first introduced to the central figure of the picture, it’s at her home in Birmingham where she and her two brothers have breakfast together before school, and joke around with each other.
It’s a familiar setting that instantly feels ordinary and relatable, yet, only moments later, we see Malala making speeches in front of the world’s leading politicians and having interviews with publications and television stations all across the globe. The message is clear; Malala Yousafzai is an ordinary girl with an extraordinary story; an ‘everywoman’ who has stood up against oppression and fought for her beliefs. If she can do it, what’s to stop anybody else from doing the same?
Whilst Malala is at the centre of the film, and proves to be a charming and intelligent subject, there’s another important figure in her life that is integral to this story – the ‘he’ of the film’s title -her father Ziauddin Yousafzai. An undoubtedly huge influence on Malala’s life, it’s the relationship between the father and daughter that is the heart of the film.
Ziauddin plays the part of storyteller throughout the picture, as he speaks of his own upbringing – which somewhat reflects Malala’s growing up – his own relationship with Malala’s mother, his daughter’s birth and events leading up to the shooting of Malala – all of which is brought to life through stunning segments of animination.
As her father speaks of his guilt surrounding the incident that almost killed his daughter, it’s obvious that their relationship is the emotional driving force of this story, and it’s one of my favourite parts of the film.
However, the biggest thing you’ll take away from He Named Me Malala is the importance of Malala’s activism, and the necessity for the education to me made readily available to women of all ages, all across the globe. It’s something that we perhaps take for granted in Western society, but with education comes freedom for many – something the film brilliant puts across.
He Named Me Malala is touching, powerful and essential viewing. With a PG rating as well, I highly recommend taking your children to see this in the hope that they too may be inspired to stand up with Malala and join her worthy cause.
Image credit to http://www.screenrelish.com