He Named Me Malala

Genuinely moving film about the Nobel Peace Laureate

The Taliban probably didn’t imagine, when they shot Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai in the face for advocating education for women, that they were creating a powerful international movement against their twisted world view.

I confess that when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, I suffered briefly from Malala media overload, but after watching this deft and affecting piece of advocacy journalism by Davis Guggenheim (Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth), the girl is among my most admired people. The Taliban’s targeting her was not random. Her educator/activist father Ziauddin, who named her for a 19th-century Afghani Pashtun warrior poet who inspired her countrymen to rally against the British, asked her to write an anonymous blog for the BBC. It was her own decision to go public with it.

Perhaps most amazing thing about this valiant teenager is how ordinary and modest she is beneath her extraordinary sense of commitment. This genuinely moving film has minor flaws. It sidesteps the trauma of the shooting and the broader issues related to being a renowned Nobel Peace Laureate before being old enough to drive. I was left with the feeling that there’s more to know about Malala. Japanese title: Watashi wa Malala. (88 min)