By Bonnie Anderson and Dan Webster
Named by her father after a legendary Afghani heroine who led the Pashtun against British invaders in the late 1880s, Malala Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Honored for her valiant advocacy for the education of girls and women, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban who stopped her school bus and targeted her and two of her friends.
The film chronicles her recovery and her brave return to continue the quest that has made her a threat to the Taliban and forced her to leave her beloved country in fear of assassination. Malala and her family are safely living in England, and she is well aware that returning to her home in the Swat Valley is very dangerous for her. Yet, she still dreams of a time when she will return again to her home village. Her longing to return home is may come as a surprise to western culture film goers. It is a poignant reminder of our commonly held love of our own home place and a bond that we share with others across the globe.
Malala’s father, Ziauddin, plays an important role in Malala’s life and in her continuing advocacy for the cause she has embraced. The film presents Ziauddin as a man of perseverance, overcoming a debilitating stutter and becoming proficient at public speaking. Through Malala’s life he has been beside her and the film leaves no question that he is the guiding light in her life.
The audience is privileged by intimate and humorous scenes from Malala’s family life as well as clips from her many speaking engagements. The film uses some artfully created animation to illustrate parts of Malala’s life. Her genuine honesty transcends the screen and moves right into the heart of the viewer.
You will come away from this film having seen the obvious light of God shining in this person.
Bonnie Anderson is a very active lay leader in her parish, diocese and in the wider Episcopal Church. She is an experienced community organizer and lives in suburban Detroit. Dan Webster is an Episcopal priest in Baltimore, Maryland and a former broadcast news executive. But don’t expect only east coast urban perspectives here. As it turns out, they both grew up in Southern California. They blog about films and faith at Faith Reels.