Q&A: Team ‘He Named Me Malala’

“Just because she has become a P.R. machine doesn’t mean she’s not the real deal,” said director Davis Guggenheim of Malala Yousafzai, the eighteen-year-old education activist who was shot in the head in 2012 and lived to tell her story. We were at New York’s The London hotel, where, along with producers Laurie MacDonald and Walter Parkes, Guggenheim had convened to discuss “He Named Me Malala,” their documentary about the Pakistani teenager who had become a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, opening October 2. At times, the conversation, though polite, became quite charged.

Because he was in a room of mostly American journalists, one of the first questions lobbed at Guggenheim was, “How, as filmmakers, did you navigate the fact that Malala has become a brand?”

“I understand why you have to ask that,” said Guggenheim, with a professorial patience. “But I live in a very nice Hollywood ghetto and my process is to make the stories I want to make, which is very separate from brand-making.” (Among the director’s previous projects is the Academy Award-winning eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”) (more…)

How We Belong to Each Other

I’m amazed once again by the beautiful tenderness of others. It would have been so easy to dismiss my sorrow about losing my beloved auto Sadie as indulgent, disproportionate, even mad. Instead, I received so much gentle kindness yesterday. In some cases it was because others empathized with what I was mourning–the loss of insouciance; the loss of my grandfather (again); the loss of a dear friend, inanimate or not–but generally speaking it was simpler than that. Pain is pain, and to date nothing has robbed us of our basic impulse to tend to those who feel it. I am grateful.… Read More

Sadie Rosman, 2001-2015

Today is the day that I officially give up my car. Her name is Sadie, and she is a 2001 champagne-colored Hyundai Elantra with a manual transmission. She is so broken and old now that it is unkind to apply any more band-aids to her tumors. She was meant to safely carry me, and because she can no longer do that I must respectfully retire my sweet friend. I am beyond bereft.

You could argue that it’s unhealthy to be attached to things, but I always knew she carried my late grandfather’s spirit, and loved her even more for that.

Nathaniel Rosman, my father’s father, a Jewish immigrant from Poland who was prone to spontaneously bursting into song and doing a little soft-shoe on the street, bought her for me five days before September 11, 2001, which was a few months before he died after ninety years on the planet.… Read More