In case you don’t already know, Malala Yousafzai is the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for publicly arguing for girls’ education. Unfortunately for the Taliban they also shot themselves in the foot, as Malala has gone on to become an internationally famous campaigner for education and Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Malala’s is a story so incredible that an inspirational documentary about her almost makes itself. Beginning with her family in Birmingham, He Named Me Malala brilliantly shows her as both a normal girl and and an exceptional world leader. Some of the best moments come not from the newsreel footage of her meeting Presidents and addressing the UN, but from her playing with her brothers and trying to teach her father to use Twitter.
Even without the circumstances she was born and raised in it’s remarkable what Malala has accomplished. And when you bear in mind it’s not that she’s prepared to speak her mind and publicly fight for unpopular causes in a liberal Western country, where the worst she would get is some negative comments – she was prepared to stand against the Taliban, who she knew were prepared to kill her. It’s a story so incredible it bears repeating.
This documentary’s biggest problem is its structure. Through the desire to end with the most emotionally impactful part of the story – Malala’s shooting and the days around it – it confusingly jumps all over the place. It begins with her living with her family in Birmingham, then fills us in on the background, then hops to her new life again and her work campaigning for girls’ education.
But all around this is a solid and informative look at an inspirational individual, and leaves us with the sense that she’s just getting started.