Participant Media is joining Image Nation Abu Dhabi as co-financer of the upcoming documentary about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student activist who survived a Taliban assassination attempt. Docu is being helmed by “Waiting for Superman” director Davis Guggenheim.
The Malala docu is produced by Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald with whom Image Nation has a longstanding partnership.
In addition to its financial commitment, Participant Media will collaborate with Image Nation to launch a social action and advocacy campaign to expand the reach and impact of the high-profile docu’s theatrical release.
In 2012 Malala Yousafzai was wounded when gunmen opened fire on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The then 14-year-old teenager, who had been targeted for speaking out on behalf of girls’ education in her community, was shot in the head and neck, sparking international media outrage.
Yousafzai was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the youngest such nominee in history. The United Nations and Gordon Brown, the organization’s special envoy for education, declared July 12, 2013 as “Malala Day” in support of her global education campaign. Malala Yousafzai’s charity, The Malala Fund (www.malalafund.org), invests in projects that support education and empowerment for girls around the world. The film will include her July 12 speech to the UN General Assembly, Malala’s first major public address since being shot.
“We have believed in this project from its inception and are now pleased to have Participant Media, who are strong advocates for social action, as a financing partner on the project.” said Michael Garin, CEO of Image Nation in a statement.
Jim Berk, Participant Media’s CEO, commented: “Malala Yousafzai has said that she speaks, not for herself, ‘but so those without a voice can be heard.’ Jeff Skoll founded Participant Media to provide a platform for voices calling for social change, which is why Participant’s collaboration on this film was so important to him.”
Producers are aiming for a theatrical release of the “Malala” docu in early 2015 and have not announced a distribution deal yet.
Participant Media has a long-standing relationship with Image Nation, having partnered on the Participant Media/Image Nation Film Fund, which financed pics including “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “The Help,” and upcoming releases “A Most Violent Year” and “Out of the Dark.” However that fund has expired and Participant in February 2013 pacted instead with the Doha Film Institute on a $100 million revolving fund. Which makes the Image Nation/Participant co-financing pact on the Malala docu especially interesting.