Hailed by critics as a “Profoundly moving portrait,” an “Appeal to your heart and gut,” and a “Gripping story, eloquently told,” He Named Me Malala is an intimate portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai. A few years ago, Malala was targeted by the Taliban for supporting girls’ education and severely wounded by a gunshot in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. National Geographic Channel sent me an advanced screener of the powerful film about this young lady so I could watch and spread the word about it’s upcoming television premiere. I stand #withMalala, even more now that I’ve witnessed this core-shaking film, and I hope you will too.
The documentary gives viewers a glimpse into Malala’s life before and after her brutal attack at the hand’s of the Taliban. When their shots blasted towards Malala in an attempt to take her life, she was only 15. She was singled out, along with her father, for her advocacy of girls’ education. Her supporters rallied around the world. Whisked off to England, where she continues to live, unable to return to her home country due to ongoing death threats, Malala was nursed back to health. She continues to speak out on behalf of girls’ education all over the world and even co-founded a non-profit.
Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman) explores the ways in which Malala and her father continue to fight for education for ALL girls worldwide. Their relationship struck me as one of the most compelling parts of the documentary. It is clear how strong their bond is, how parallel their beliefs are, and how they served as each other’s greatest confidantes and comrades long before the attack on Malala’s life. The film offers viewers an insider glimpse at this close relationship along with everything from speeches in front of the United Nations to intimate scenes where Malala playfully picks on her two brothers.
The film uses animated sequences throughout to great effect. While the real footage, like Malala’s father delivering passionate speeches and a shy interview sequence with Malala herself, found a tear in my eye, the points told through animation were most often the ones that sent a chill down my spine. The main thread of the film, in fact, is mostly delivered in this way. We’re told Malala’s father named her. He called her Malala after Malala of Maiwand, the national folk hero of Afghanistan who rallied followers to fight against British troops at the Battle of Maiwand in 1880. When the Afghans were losing hope, Malala used her voice to rally them towards victory, losing her own life in the process. She is often referred to as The Afghan Joan of Arc. Malala’s father, and his critics, worried he had created a self-fulfilling prophecy. A child who would raise her voice, garner passionate supporters, but who was ultimately doomed. A modern-day martyr. Yet, Malala’s response to this line of thought brought me to tears and it’s something you’ll just have to see for yourself. So, I hope you’ll tune in…
He Named Me Malala will premiere commercial free on Monday, February 29th at 8 pm (EST) on the National Geographic Channel in the U.S.
I encourage you to stand #withMalala by watching this powerful film, but that’s not all…
Today, over 60 million girls are out of school globally. It’s time to take a cue from Malala and take action!
Leading up to the TV debut, you can show your support by changing your profile picture using a custom-designed animation. (Make one here.) On Twitter, you can contribute by tweeting using the hashtag #withMalala. For every profile picture changed and each tweet sent with the hashtag, 21st Century Fox will donate $1 to the Malala Fund.
The Malala Fund was co-founded by Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai. It is a nonprofit organization that empowers girls globally through education to achieve their potential and be agents of change in their community. The Malala Fund invests in and advocates for girls’ secondary education and amplifies the voices of adolescent girls globally. If you’re touched by Malala’s story or would like to help empower girls across the world, consider donating.
(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Review Wire Media for 20th Century Fox. I received information to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.)