He Named Me Malala
Rather than an intimate portrait of the subject of its title, He Named Me Malala uses the case of Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the face by a Taliban gunman in 2012, to highlight the insane activities of the Taliban and the impact that armed conflict has on the education of children worldwide.
I learned from the film that Malala was already an outspoken critic of the Taliban and an advocate for female rights before the shooting, this being the main reason she was targeted in the first place.
The film weaves a narrative through interview material of Malala and her family talking about her activism before and after the shooting, how the rise of the Taliban across Pakistan began to impact their daily life, together with fly on the wall footage shot as she travels the world campaigning for the right of all children to an education.
It also incorporates gorgeous animations that detail how Malala is named after a national Afghan folk hero who as a teenager rallied the Afghan army to victory against the British, before being killed on the battlefield.
In the film, Malala’s father Ziauddin Yousafzai speaks of how his daughter became the first female name entered into the clan’s family tree, the privilege previously being reserved for male members of the bloodline.
With this hugely symbolic deed, and the naming of his daughter after an iconic historical figure, Ziauddin clearly had big plans for his daughter.
He encouraged her to be outspoken about the Taliban as they started to become more extreme, banning females from school, and even blowing up hundreds of school buildings in their vain attempt to create a generation of blind followers.
I knew very little of Malala, or the situation in Pakistan, and after watching the film I was left with a much greater understanding of how global crises including the migrant catastrophe unfolding due to conflict in the Middle East is preventing millions of children from attending school.
Malala herself however remains an enigma. A beacon for Human Rights campaigners to hold aloft as an example of how one child was able to withstand not just oppressive tyranny, but an attempt on her life that should have silenced her for good.
Absolutely essential viewing for any parent, and very powerful for high school in the First World to see the adversity that many around the world face when it comes to receiving an education.
A resident of the UK since the 2012 attempt on her life, Malala faces the risk that should she return to her homeland, the Taliban will assassinate her, leaving her and her family to live in Britain while also travelling the world spreading the word about a child’s right to go to school.
How easily we take things for granted in the West, and even complain about having to go to school. After watching this documentary even the least enthusiastic pupil will have fresh respect for their classroom.
4 Stars – Essential Viewing.