By Rachel Popa
Malala Yousafzai of the Swat Valley in Pakistan is the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17. When she was 15, she was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking out against their restrictions on girls going to school. Instead of being silenced by the Taliban, Malala survived the gunshot and went on to be known worldwide as an advocate for the right to an education.
After being shot, Malala was taken to Birmingham, England where she made her recovery, and is now living with her family. Davis Guggenheim, the director of “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Waiting for Superman”, spent 18 months with the Yousafzai family to create “He Named Me Malala”, a documentary film about Malala’s life.
“Malala’s is an incredible story of a girl who risked her life to speak out for what is right,” Guggenheim said.
The film begins with a artistically rendered portrayal of the Pashtun folk story of “Malalai of Maiwind”, which is centered around a young woman who inspires the Pashtun army to fight back against the British in the battle of Maiwind. In the folk story, Malalai is martyred and becomes a hero to both the Pashtun and Pakistani people alike.
Malala’s real life story is notably similar to that of the folk story. Her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, a Pakistani diplomat and protester of the Taliban, named Malala after the girl in the story.
“That name was so inspirational to me that I thought if I had a daughter, I will name her after the Malalai of Maiwind,” Yousafzai said. “She will have an identity, which Malalai of Maiwind had.”
Even though Malala was named after the heroine in the story, she walked her own path to get the point where she is today.
“My father only gave me the name Malalai,” she said. “He didn’t make me Malalai—I chose this life.”
While Malala is indeed a Nobel Prize laureate, she still faces the everyday struggles of homework, school, boys and the prospect of her future. “He Named Me Malala” offers audiences an intimate picture of Malala’s life which is both extraordinary and relatable to the everyday person who has lived through adolescence.
“After making this movie I’m more hopeful,” Guggenheim said. “I got to know a family who has faced so many obstacles, yet their belief in speaking out continues to inspire.”
“He Named Me Malala” will be released in theaters nationwide on Oct. 9.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment