“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.”) Continue Reading →