Movie Review: He Named Me Malala

i-am-malalaIn 2014, Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi were awarded as Nobel Peace Prize laureates for “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education” At the age of 17, Malala became the youngest person to ever win a Nobel Prize.

Malala is therefore an appropriate choice for a documentary movie. The Daughter has been reading her autobiography, I Am Malala, upon which the film was based. The family plus The Daughter’s friend N went to the Spectrum in Albany to see He Named Me Malala.

It is a very nonlinear film, with some of the history, including the source of the protagonist’s first name, depicted in a very engaging animation style. We find that Malala is human, struggling with her studies in England, picking on her little brother, fascinated with Roger Federer’s hair. Yet she’s such an impressive person, feeling no antipathy for the Taliban man who shot, and nearly killed her.

The “he” in the title is Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who was a bit of a rabble-rouser in favor of education for girls himself. He describes his relationship with his daughter as them being two parts of the same persona.

The movie was produced and directed by Davis Guggenheim, who put out An Inconvenient Truth(2006) and Waiting for ‘Superman’ (2010). The Malala movie was less well-received, by both audiences and critics, perhaps because, I’ve read, the family tried to keep some privacy for a very public figure. And, since she’s still known to be alive, and a Nobel winner, there was not as much suspense as to the outcome.

I’d agree with the criticism that the film is more educational than engrossing. But it’s mighty educational, though I wish it were more so. This is an especially useful film for those less familiar with her story and is worthy on that level.

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