At the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live on September 29, nearly 7,000 female high school students from the Los Angeles Unified School District gathered for an exclusive screening of He Named Me Malala, the newest documentary from Fox Searchlight Pictures and Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim. The event served as the film’s West Coast premiere, and it gave the young women a chance to hear from activists and community leaders about the power they have to make a difference in the world. 21st Century Fox was a Presenting Sponsor of the event.
He Named Me Malala tells the story of Malala Yousafzai, the 18 year-old Pakistani activist for women’s rights who was shot and nearly killed by the Taliban in October 2012. She suffered multiple gunshot wounds, only to make a miraculous recovery and return to public life as an international advocate for girls’ education. In October 2014, she became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
“I always make a movie with a certain audience in mind,” said Guggenheim, who addressed the crowd of 7,000 girls before the screening began. “With this film, the audience is you… This movie has a global story, but it really speaks to every girl everywhere.”
The event also served as the launch of Girls Build LA, the newest campaign from the LA Fund for Public Education to empower young women to take action in their communities. The LA Fund has a long history of working to improve the education system in Los Angeles, and this new initiative will award grants to 50 teams of girls who identify social issues in their communities and then propose solutions. The organization also worked with the LA County Board of Supervisors and the LA City Council to recognize October as Girls Empowerment Month in honor of the three-year campaign.
Those in attendance also received a special video message from First Lady Michelle Obama.
“I am so proud of all of you for committing to your education and stepping up as leaders in your schools and communities,” Obama said. “Don’t listen to the doubters. Don’t listen to the haters. Just work harder to prove them wrong… The President and I can’t wait to see everything you all will contribute to your schools, your communities, and our country.”
Following the screening, students were treated to a festival on the L.A. Live Plaza, where 21st Century Fox organized a selfie campaign, encouraging girls to make a pledge to #StandWithMalala and take action in their schools and communities.
Among those who participated in the social media campaign were students from Ghetto Film School Los Angeles, a local nonprofit co-founded by 21st Century Fox that teaches filmmaking to young people from traditionally underserved neighborhoods.
“If I ever had any doubt about being a teacher, I don’t anymore,” said Francis Arana, a senior in Boyle Heights who attends the Ghetto Film School on evenings and weekends. “I definitely want to be a teacher. She has inspired me.”
“She’s all of us,” said Chantal Serrano, another GFS LA student. “She’s saying you have to fight for your rights no matter what.”
Fox Searchlight Pictures’ He Named Me Malala will open in New York and Los Angeles on October 2, with a wide release on October 9. The theatrical run will be followed by a television broadcast on the National Geographic Channel in early 2016, airing in 171 countries and 45 languages. Many other 21st Century Fox businesses have supported the film and are helping bring its inspiring message to as many people as possible.
For more information on the film and Malala’s work, visit HeNamedMeMalalaMovie.com.