Festival Review: He Named Me Malala (2015)

He Named Me Malala

After An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim’s He Named Me Malala brings Malala Yousafzai’s story to the masses. Just a little too easily.

An Education

by Alexa Dalby

He Named Me Malala

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

A fascinating and well-worth-seeing – though soft-focus – documentary-lite about the inspirational teenager from Pakistan’s Swat valley, who became world famous through her advocacy of girls’ right to education in defiance of the Taliban. It nearly killed her, then won her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. And as the title suggests, it’s also almost equally about her father and their intriguingly inseparable and mutually supportive relationship. Though hugely informative, it hovers on the borderline between accessibility and dumbing down in its very explicit use of (beautifully drawn) animations and dramatised reconstructions in its aim to make Malala’s story – and the region’s politics – understandable. He Named Me Malala is mainly narrated by her, and we see her both speaking in public to global audiences as if she is the most mature of adults trapped in a child’s body, but also relaxed at home in Birmingham with her family, teasing her two cheeky brothers and trying to hide a crush on Brad Pitt from director Davis Guggenheim like any other teenager.

He Named Me Malala is now showing at the London Film Festival

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