He Named Me Malala

DOCUMENTARY; 1hr 28min

DIRECTED BY: Davis Guggenheim

Targeted: Malala (in Maasai Mara, Kenya, in May 2014)

While riding in her school bus in 2012, Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani schoolgirl and warrior for the female educational cause, was shot in the forehead by a Taliban gunman as a response to her vocal advocacy. She not only survived the attack, but in 2014, at age 17, she became history’s youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.


Most people know this, or some limited version of it, Malala having become synonymous with courage and fortitude. What they may not know is what a regular girl she is in so many ways: when not eloquently speaking out for equality or rubbing shoulders with world leaders, she arm-wrestles with her brothers and giggles at cartoon Minions. Through archival footage, whimsical animation and up-close time with Malala and her family in Birmingham, where they are necessarily living to avoid further Taliban reprisals, Travis Guggenheim's thoughtful documentary details her closeness to her outspoken schoolmaster father, Ziauddin. (He named his daughter but did not, as she points out, make her the person she became.) And while the laudatory tone isn't at all surprising, as Malala herself understands full well, some statements do bear repeating.