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Video of the Day: He Named Me Malala Featurette: Animation

November 6, 2015 | By

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Fox Searchlight released this behind-the-scenes video that explores the use of animation in Davis Guggenheim‘s feature documentary He Named Me Malala. The film is an intimate portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The then 15-year-old was singled out, along with her father, for advocating for girls’ education on a BBC blog, and the attack on her sparked an outcry from supporters around the world.

Guggenheim turned to animation for a distinct storytelling purpose: to let audiences see Malala’s memories, something that otherwise would have been impossible.

“So often, when we a see a report here about Pakistan, it’s something harsh or scary,” said Guggenheim. “But when Malala and Ziauddin tell the story of their past, it’s something wonderful. The way they spoke, their memories felt like a storybook to me. So I chose to use animation to portray the part of the Yousafzai’s lives before the Taliban in the way they themselves remember it: as something beautiful and charming, like a fairy tale. Animation means time and money. But I had the instinct that it could help tell Malala’s story in a very profound and touching way.”

Guggenheim partnered with Jason Carpenter, a young filmmaker who had impressed him with his award-winning student short The Renter.

For Carpenter, who runs Carpenter Bros. Animation with his brother, it was unlike any challenge he’d faced before – a challenge that would consume 18 months of focused creative work. “This is a very special kind of animation project because it deals not only with a real person but with a real world leader,” he explained. “So going in, we felt that the animation had to be very genuine, that it had to be respectful and reflective not only of the people involved but of the culture.”

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