You'd be hard-pressed to find a more inspiring individual than Malala Yousafzai, who at 15 was shot in the head and nearly killed by the Taliban in Pakistan for speaking up on the rights of women and girls. Now 18, Malala has become an international force for women's rights and education, as well as a symbol of resilience in the face of adversity. She is the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and has inspired millions with her story. And now, she's coming to a theater near you. He Named Me Malala , a documentary from Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth director Davis Guggenheim, debuts on Oct. 2 in the United States, and everyone seems especially excited to see the real story of such a larger-than-life individual. But what does Malala think of her documentary?
Yousafzai is a busy person with a lot on her plate, and it doesn't really look like she has yet had the time to give her film a proper review. However, both her official Twitter account and website are filled with promotion for the film, with the hopes that the movie can reach and inspire a whole new audience with Malala's story. Even more, at the New York premiere of He Named Me Malala, Guggenheim spoke about the film with Yousafzai and her father, both of whom shared their support for the movie.
“Malala was known to the world before this, but nobody knew about her life at home,” Ziauddin Yousafzai told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet. “So this tells some of her life at home with her mother and father and brothers. People now know who she is as a normal girl so it is very important, because if people don’t know this, she remains just a girl who was shot by the Taliban and the girl who got the Nobel and that’s it.”
Cclearly, the Yousafzai family is not opposed to the doc. In fact, Malala was even involved in its production, which dates back to less than a year after her shooting. Some time before Malala's memoir, I Am Malala, was even published in October of 2013, Hollywood producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald secured the film rights to the story. The pair flew to Britain to meet Yousafzai and her father with the intention of turning her life into a big screen adaptation, but upon meeting the teen, who was still in physical therapy recovering from her shooting, they realized that maybe a biopic wasn't the best way to tell her story. And that's when they came up with the idea of a documentary.
The producers got in touch with Guggenheim, who was immediately on board, and he was able to get Yousafzai herself to cooperate in the making of the film. She is captured in many never-before-seen moments by Guggenheim and his crew as they spend time with the family, and some scenes even show Yousafzai just being a regular teenager. She also shares revealing thoughts throughout thanks to on-camera interviews, such as her belief that she would likely have two children by now had she remained in Pakistan. Yousafzai also provides some narration for the film, including for an animated sequence that explains the origin of her name, and why her father (also an education activist) decided to give it to her.
Guggenheim really wanted to tell a side of Yousafzai's story people weren't familiar with, while still touching on all of the important parts of her journey that continue to be so inspirational. According to the 18-year-old's website, she is hoping that the movie will become a movement and inspire more people to join her cause. I hope she's right.
Images: Fox Searchlight Pictures