The “he” of the title is Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Pakistan’s teenage Nobel Peace Laureate Malala Yousafzai.
He named her after the Afghan folk heroine Malalai – a Joan of Arc figure who rallied Pashtun fighters against the British in 1880.
So perhaps defiance was her birthright.
The 88-minutes documentary directed by gifted filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for Superman, An Inconvenient Truth) is a tale of courage, precociousness, passion and selflessness by a 15-year-old Malala.
Just last year, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel Peace Laureate.
Since being wounded by Taliban gunmen for standing up for the rights of children and young women, she has become an international campaigner for education accessibility.
Part of the notable pleasures of Guggenheim’s exceptional documentary tribute is the light it casts on her relationship with her father.
It also highlights shades of history, on the British, and addresses the question of who the oppressors are now.
According to Fox Searchlight executives Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley; “Malala’s incredible journey is both heartbreaking and inspiring. Her bravery in the face of adversity brought us to tears. The chance to bring her story to a global audience will be an honor for all of us here at Searchlight.”
Moral courage and heroism are very rare traits, but Malala Yousafzai’s story is particularly moving.
As a 15-year-old in north-west Pakistan’s Swat Valley, she had been a valiant advocate for the right of girl child education; the heartless bullies of the Taliban boarded her school bus and shot her in the head – men armed with guns against helpless schoolgirls.
She survived and was airlifted to the United Kingdom with her family where, after a several operations, she made a significant recovery, mastered English and continued her wonderful ambitions, now a global campaign.
The film is incidentally valuable in showing that her campaigning identity did not begin with being shot, like some comic-book warrior.
What will Malala not achieve?
She has the natural leadership, stamps authority and is determined to succeed in her quest – here is a young fearless soul who has taken a bullet for values that she believes in.
No easily upsetting cultural relativism: women’s education is a must in Muslim countries, non-Muslim countries, everywhere, non-negotiable.
Guggenheim’s film is inspiring.
Malala’s key motto is: “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”
In July 2014, the education activist and Malala Fund co-founder visited Kenya where she expressed solidarity with local girls that had overcome obstacles to attain education.
“I came to Africa to raise awareness about the 58 million children not in school and face numerous barriers to education,” Yousafzai said, adding: “I was particularly inspired to meet young girls in Kenya who are so passionate about getting an education, building their future and the future of their country.”
He called Me Malala will hit the theaters in November 13, 2015 in East and West African cinemas.
It’s not time and again there are two whole hours in cinema dedicated to telling the story of young women who are changing the world and the course of history as we know it.
We can all learn something from He Named Me Malala and I have no doubt it will become required viewing in schools around the world. I have no shred of doubt it will be a major awards contender.