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He Named Me Malala


Like Father Like Daughter – ★★★½

Hailing from the Swat district in Pakistan, Malala dared suggest that girls deserve an education directly conflicting with the Taliban’s decree. For being so brave and courageous, an attempt was made on her life and she was shot in the head. Thankfully due to doctors in both Pakistan and Birmingham she survived and rehabilitated into an international symbol of defiance and a beacon for women’s rights.

Director Davis Guggenheim is no stranger to the genre having previously completed An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for Superman and he puts his skills to good use weaving a story together to give us a fuller picture of Malala, the girl behind the headlines. A mixture of animation and interviews with the main protagonists in the tale intercut with video footage from the time allow us to see how Malala didn’t quite lick her courageous tendencies off a stone. Her father Ziauddin was the inspiration in her life, through his founding of a school and dedication to education for all he sparked the flame of courage in his young daughter.

The film shows how a force like the Taliban slowly encroaches upon a community winning them over bit by bit until they are completely indoctrinated. They were twisting the teachings of Islam to their lust for power and Ziauddin could not sit idly by and do nothing. He began to speak out instantly putting his own life and that of his family at risk. When the latest edict came through proclaiming that no females could attend school or seek an education and the Taliban began blowing up schools Malala found her voice and would not be silenced.

It’s a heart-warming tale depicting the ordinary story of a father’s love for his daughter while highlighting the importance of education. The father points out how the Taliban talked directly to woman who had never been addressed before or knew nothing of the real world. We see this with Malala’s mother who never received a formal education. She comes across as unsure of herself and careful not to cause a fuss. Malala knows that she is fighting for the young girls of the world who like her mother weren’t afforded the same chances she was lucky enough to receive.

The piece doesn’t shy away from the truth of the incident that propelled Malala into the spot light of the world’s media. It shows the aftermath of the school bus that she was travelling on and how it took some time for her to fully rehabilitate. We also get an insight into how difficult it is for Malala to be a normal teenage girl and international humanitarian figure.

The film is a very slick production with no rough edges or great revelations. Yet this can be forgiven as the root of the documentary is an instructional teaching companion to show all children of the world, especially girls, that you deserve the right to an education. It shows that the idea of an educated woman is so threatening to certain factions of society that they are prepared to kill a child to prevent it from happening.

He Named Me Malala opens on the 6th of November

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Malala has got to be among the greatest spokespeople of our age. Like Gandhi, she will move mountains and nations, not with bombs but with words of simple, humanitarian wisdom. Godspeed, Malala, you are saying what needs to be said, what the world needs to hear. Never forget, you are loved and respected by all the best in this world as well as doing the work of millions who have no voice. But, I know already know this all very well. Nevertheless, fight and continue with the love of millions – perhaps hundreds of millions, including me, – who love, admire and support your great push for humanity and decency.

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