He Named Me Malala, the new documentary from Fox Searchlight Pictures and Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman), opens in theaters across the U.S. and Canada on Friday, October 9. The film tells the captivating story of Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Laureate and activist for girls’ education, who was shot and nearly killed by the Taliban in 2012. The film’s release is accompanied by a global social action campaign entitled Stand #withMalala, which aims to inspire people around the world to stand up and take action for education rights.
“The theme of the movie is how an ordinary person can find their voice and how powerful you can be if you express that,” Guggenheim told The Hollywood Reporter. “Girls respond to this movie and connect to this idea that speaking up is a vital part of their lives. … Girls all over the world confront [the same issue], which is, do they feel equal? Do they feel strong enough to speak out?”
To accompany the film’s release, the Malala Fund launched the international Stand #withMalala campaign to mobilize millions of people worldwide. Supporters can join the conversation by following the #withMalala hashtag on Twitter and can get involved by donating to the Fund’s education projects in Kenya, Nigera, and Pakistan, as well as Jordan and Lebanon, which are supporting Syrian refugee girls.
“This film tells the story of one girl, but I am one of many,” Malala said. “There are millions of girls denied their right to education. Let us raise our voices, stand with girls, stand up for their rights and ensure every one of them gets the chance to learn. Education is the key to peace and a better future for all.”
To specifically engage students, the Malala Fund launched the global Students Stand With Malala initiative. In the U.S., the program provides free school field trips for students to see the film in 25 cities, providing free tickets to a screening and covering all associated costs. Already more than 100,000 public school students have signed up to see the film through this initiative, and the screening series will expand worldwide as the film opens. Curriculum and discussion guides are available to all teachers to facilitate lessons about girls’ education in the classroom.
In the UK, the Fund launched the Malala Youth Voice Programme, providing education resources to teachers that enable students ages 13-19 to develop their confidence, public speaking, and campaigning skills. The program also includes a short filmmaking competition, encouraging students to make short videos about the issues in their communities that matter most to them.
As part of this campaign to empower women and girls around the world, 21st Century Fox partnered with the LA Fund for Public Education to host a special screening of He Named Me Malala for an audience of nearly 7,000 public high school girls from the Los Angeles area, in lieu of a traditional premiere. Among those in attendance were students from Ghetto Film School Los Angeles, a local nonprofit co-founded by 21st Century Fox that teaches filmmaking to young people from historically 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. [Malala] has inspired me.”
The theatrical release will be followed by a spring television broadcast on the National Geographic Channels, 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 how to get involved, visit Malala.org.