At 18, Malala is changing the world

Trust me on this one: "He Named Me Malala" is a compelling documentary. It airs twice -- commercial-free, no less -- Monday on the National Georaphic Channel; here's the stoy I sent to papers:

(TV story about the
compellng “Malala,” which airs twice Monday, commercial-free.)

By Mike Hughes

This was a Pakistani
world where children – and women – were seen and not heard.

“When all the
people in the house (turn serious), they send the children away,”
Ziauddin Yousafai said. “I was different in the treatment of my

That sprang from his
own childhood, surrounded by a brother and five sisters. Now his
daughter, Malala, 18, is the youngest person ever to be a Nobel

“This is such an
important story .... of how powerful education is – and the power
of not having an education,” said Davis Guggenheim, whose
award-winning “He Named Me Mulala” airs twice, commercial-free,
Monday on the National Geographic Channel.

Malala grew up
savoring education, which was logical: Her father ran a chain of
schools; his father was a famous speaker.

Then the Taliban
flatly banned girls from going to school. She studied at home and, at
11 and 12, wrote a blog (anonymous, at first) about her life.

At 15, while getting
on a school bus, she was shot three times. She survived and kept
speaking out.

“There is an
authenticity to Malala,” said Laurie MacDonald, one of the film's
producers. “When you spend time with her, there's no difference
between that powerful speaker and a girl who is going to school and
has all the concerns that all girls do .... There's no artifice.”

Walter Parkes, who
produced the film with his wife MacDonald, saw a vivid example: He
was visiting the family when her father mentioned she'd done her
first draft of her speech before the United Nations:

“So Malala comes
down from upstairs with two pieces of printer paper, just like one's
kid would have had for a first draft of a term paper.

“She sits down and
starts reading ... and I hear, 'One student, one teacher, one book
and one pen can change the world.' And there she is, a 16-year- old
girl ... being that lyrical and concise and insightful.”

Malala – back at
school and not available for this interview – didn't pick this up
from her family, her dad said. “My father was a very good speaker,
(but) he used to have many digressions ....

“I had this
problem of stammering. And I speak for too long. Malala is much more
sophisticated, very short, concise.”

That make her ideal
for modern media. She co-wrote a book, visited “The Daily Show”
twice, did other talk shows and linked with top people for the
documentary. MacDonald and Parkes led Dreamworks when it had three
straight best-picture Oscar winners; Guggerheim has an Oscar for “An
Inconvenient Truth” and other wins. “Mulala” didn't get an
Oscar nomination, but won four festival prizes.

Now it gets another
springboard, via National Geographic. It's “going to be in 171
countries, 45 languages,” Guggenheim said. “It's our dream, when
we started this movie.”

-- “He Named Me
Malala,” 8 and 9:30 p.m. Monday (commercial-free), National

-- “I Am Malala,”
by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb (2013, Bay Back Books)