He Named Me Malala

"Malala" is the name of a legendary Afghani girl who had the courage to speak out and was eventually killed. This timely documentary directed by David Guggenheim (the award-winning "Waiting for Superman") gives us a first-hand account of her namesake, a courageous Pakistani girl who has the temerity to defend her right to attend school, much to the outrage of the religious zealots who tried to kill her. Even more interesting to me, was following the gradual shift of the Taliban from a charismatic new political influence to a tyrannical, blood-thirsty theocracy.

Even before she was been awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, Malala had become a highly visible advocate for education throughout the world, believing that this is the most direct way to cleanse countries of radical zealotry. "One child. One teacher. One book." To balance her celebrity we appreciate the humorous ways her family keeps her grounded, part of which includes doing her homework and getting along with her three younger brothers.

We see:
  • Malala Yousafzai, starting with the news clips which describe the Taliban's attempt to assassinate her and her brush with death at age 13. We see her in the company of queens, presidents, movie stars and school children. She is comfortable with them all.
  • Ziauddin Yousafzai, her father, who overcame a childhood stammer to become a powerful speaker. He too, is a firebrand who refuses to tolerate the actions of the Taliban and the claim that they are based on the Quran.
  • Toor Pekai Yousafzai and Atal Yousafzai are two of her articulate (and entertaining) younger brothers.
  • Khushal Yousafzai is a child bride who grows up to become Malala's mother. She is homesick for the Swat Valley in Afghanistan but is working hard at assimilation in England.
As we come to grips with the realities of life in Pakistan through news clips and interviews, we also learn about Malala's family history through animated figures and family photos. By the way, her father discovered that his family tree goes back over 300 years and Malala is the first female name that has ever been entered.
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Take a look at this inspiring trailer:
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