“There’s a moment when you have to choose, to stand up, or be silent.”
I brought two of my daughters, ages 13 and 11, with me to an advance screening of He Named Me Malala this summer. Going in they knew who Malala was. They saw her as a leader, as someone important; they identified her as a fighter for education, especially for girls. By the end of the movie, they saw her as a girl and in that, saw potential in themselves.
He Named Me Malala is a documentary with a different feel, like sitting down to have a chat with a family. I went into the theatre with expectations that, by the end, had been turned on their head. I was expecting to feel sad and angry, prepared to watch an emotionally heavy piece.
While the subject matter of what Malala has endured is, of course, serious and sobering, the film’s creator, Davis Guggenhein, was able to make it accessible and even light, without surrendering any depth. The unexpected was politely, beautifully and respectfully presented: a family, with kids who fight and tease each other; brothers who really don’t care that their sister is known throughout the world; a teenager who has crushes on good-looking celebrities. Just like your family, just like mine.
When I ask my daughters what they thought the most important message from the film is, the older speaks of bravery in the face of the world’s scariest situations. The younger answers that she’ll always remember Malala’s example of forgiveness, kindness, and happiness (which three qualities, I point out to my daughter, are likely related).
What stood out to me is seeing Malala in a different light. Yes, she is a powerful speaker, a role model, a leader and example of peace in the world. She is also a girl who acts exactly her age, who even wonders at her own influence. As a mom I wanted to cry out, ‘You’re already there! You’re already strong, you’re getting stronger every day! Keep going!’ This feeling has carried over with a renewed desire for me to encourage and empower my own children just as Malala’s parents have with her.
The most difficult part of attending the screening has been, without question, maintaining composure about the film, when what I’d most like to do is passionately insist to everyone I know, “GO SEE THIS MOVIE!” I can’t wait for you to see it. It might be available online on sites such as https://123gofmovies.com/.
Take Action Challenge
He Named Me Malala opens nationally in theaters throughout the USA on October 9. You can learn more about the film at www.HeNamedMeMalala.com or on Facebook. You can learn more about Malala’s work advancing girls’ education around the world at www.Malala.org, and follow on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Images courtesy He Named Me Malala facebook page.