LONDON on October 11, 2015 Malala was the name on everyone’s lips this week at the London Film Festival where a documentary about the youngest ever Nobel Peace laureate had its European premiere.
“He named me Malala” is an intimate portrait of Malala Yousafzai the passionate Pakistani advocate of girls education who survived a brutal Taliban gun attack in 2012.
Even the festival’s biggest stars seemed humbled by the teenager and her aspirations.
American actress Meryl Streep hailed her as the worthy heiress of the suffragettes who battled for the right to vote in Britain in the early 20th century.
Filmed over 18 months in Britain, Kenya, Nigeria, Abu Dhabi and Jordan the documentary by American David Guggenheim recalls how Malala’s father chose her name in honor of Malalai of Maiwand a heroine who rallied the Pashtun army against British troops in 1880.
“When I was little many people would say, ‘Change Malala’s name. It’s a bad name it means sad.’ But my father would always say, ‘No it has another meaning. Bravery’” the 18 years old said.
On screen the teenager is seen at her home in Birmingham Central England explaining to her father in the family living room how Twitter works or squabbling with her brothers Atal and Khushal.
“She’s fighting for human rights but at home she’s so violent” complained Atal after being beaten in an arm wrestling match.
The film follows her at school in the streets of New York at a refugee camp spreading her optimistic and determined message on the right to education.
“One child one teacher one book and one pen can change the world” she proclaimed.
‘They had never killed a child’
The documentary also shows her life in Pakistan’s Swat valley where she decided aged 11 to write a blog for the BBC “Diary of a Pakistani schoolgirl” in which she denounces Taliban violence.
The film also shows the months of hospitalization and reeducation of the girl who wants to become Prime Minister of Pakistan as well as her close relationship to her father himself a teacher and staunch defender of the right to education.
“We are one soul in two different bodies” said Malala in the documentary.
To silence the critics who see her as her father’s mouthpiece she added: “my father only gave me the name Malalai. He didn’t make me Malalai. I chose this life.”
“He named me Malala” is released in Britain on November 6, 2015.