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He Named Me Malala (2015)

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A look at the events leading up to the Taliban's attack on Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, for speaking out on girls' education followed by the aftermath, including her speech to the United Nations.


Davis Guggenheim


Malala Yousafzai (inspired by the book: I Am Malala)
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 6 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Malala Yousafzai ... Herself
Ziauddin Yousafzai ... Himself
Toor Pekai Yousafzai Toor Pekai Yousafzai ... Herself
Khushal Yousafzai ... Himself
Atal Yousafzai Atal Yousafzai ... Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bono ... Himself
Jon Stewart ... Himself


A look at the events leading up to the Taliban's attack on Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, for speaking out on girls' education followed by the aftermath, including her speech to the United Nations.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One Child, One Teacher, One Book and One Pen Can Change the World



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements involving disturbing images and threats | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »




Release Date:

22 October 2015 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Malala See more »

Filming Locations:

Birmingham, England, UK See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$60,884, 4 October 2015, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,642,899, 6 December 2015
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The name Malala is a variant of Malalai, which means "sad, grieved" in Pashto. This was the name of a Pashtun woman who encouraged the Afghan forces during the 1880 Battle of Maiwand against the British. Another bearer of this name is Malalai Joya (born 1978), an activist, writer, and a former politician from Afghanistan. See more »


Malala Yousafzai: I tell my story, not because it's unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls.
See more »


Featured in Film '72: Episode #44.8 (2015) See more »


I Am Many
Written by Alicia Keys, Thomas Newman
See more »

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User Reviews

Riveting, and at times overwhelming, He Named Me Malala is a highly inspirational documentary and a delight to watch.
4 November 2015 | by LloydBayerSee all my reviews

Having saved the world so many times, how many superheroes have you seen on the cover of Time magazine? That's right, they don't exist. But real heroes do and they don't need superpowers or a fancy costume to stand in the face of injustice. As a defender of truth and equality in the times we live in, this is the incredible true story of Malala Yousafzai, a real hero whose only weapon is indelible courage.

From Academy Award winning director Davis Guggenheim and produced by Imagenation Abu Dhabi, He Named Me Malala is part documentary, part animation, and part live action, but wholly narrated by Malala and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai. Although the use of animation is questionable, these segments are used as plot points leading up to the day when Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban. If not, Guggenheim would have had to reenact those moments using real actors but at the risk of discounting the authenticity of this documentary. Along with actual news footage and still images, much of the story is a reiteration of her courage, her ordeal, her survival, and her dedication as a right-to-education activist. While this might seem all too familiar to anyone following the news, the documentary doesn't feel scripted or even overladen with praise. And why shouldn't it be? This is about the assassination attempt on a 15-year-old girl whose only crime was speaking out on her basic right to an education.

Inspired by her memoir I Am Malala, the film begins in Birmingham, United Kingdom, in 2013, where the Yousafzai family is based post recovery period. Although you don't see a scar, Malala bears a lopsided smile whenever she is asked a question. There is sadness in her eyes along with bashful insecurity but also wisdom and an inner strength much beyond her age. "Three years have passed", she recalls, not of the attempt on her life, but having left her beautiful home in the Swat Valley province of Pakistan. Surrounded by Afghani Mountains, we are shown images of this scenic region (which is always presented as a place of bloodshed and massacre by the media) before Malala begins her story. This is also where the narrative shifts from Malala to her father, beginning with his version of a 'love marriage' to Malala's mother. As a self-taught public speaker, Ziauddin's story is as incredible as his daughter Malala's. While it's clear where the latter gets her courage and insight from, it's the development of a symbiotic father-daughter relationship that makes this a documentary that must be seen.

Riveting, and at times overwhelming, He Named Me Malala is a delight to watch, and so is Malala Yousafzai. Guggenheim could have stuffed this film with geopolitical propaganda and ended it with a bleeding cry for justice. When asked if they caught the person who shot his daughter, Ziauddin replies "Not a person, but an ideology". Likewise, Malala has her own quips, and along with her brothers and her father add refreshingly funny moments given the subject matter. At the same time and given her status as a public figure, at no point does Malala seem like a celebrity, nor does she see herself that way. What you do see is a shy teenager but one that is utterly brave and honest with the kind of raw dedication that outflanks millions, possibly billions, of people her age. The fact that Malala was featured on Time magazine twice, followed by her becoming the youngest ever recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 proves my last statement.

He Named Me Malala is highly inspirational and the type of film where you clap in the end, only to realize that you've clapped too early. Malala is only 18 now, but she has achieved far more than any of us ever will. That itself is worth a standing ovation and I wish her a long life of success in her fight for equality and education with many more accolades to come.

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