×

Malala Yousafzai Boards ‘Stranger at the Gate,’ Oscar Shortlist Film About U.S. Marine’s Conversion to Islam

Malala Yousafzai
Extracurricular Productions

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has boarded the Oscar-shortlisted documentary short film “Stranger at the Gate” as executive producer.

The film, which charts the surprising change of heart of a PTSD-suffering former U.S. Marine who set out to bomb a mosque but instead converted to Islam, was a prize winner at the 2022 Tribeca Festival.

“This film is a powerful true story of forgiveness and redemption,” Yousafzai said in a statement. “I hope the film challenges every viewer to question their assumptions and show kindness to everyone they meet.”

Directed by Joshua Seftel, “Stranger at the Gate” is distributed by The New Yorker as part of the magazine’s New Yorker Documentary series.

The film tells the true story of U.S. Marine Richard “Mac” McKinney. Suffering from PTSD, McKinney decides to bomb the mosque in his hometown of Muncie, Ind. When he arrives at the mosque to gather more information for his plan, the congregants, including Afghan refugees and an African American convert, welcome him and show him kindness. Soon after, instead of committing an act of violence, McKinney converts to Islam and becomes president of the mosque.

“At this time of division and hate, the story at the heart of ‘Stranger at the Gate’ gives me hope,” Seftel said. “The heroes in the film have inspired me to believe that love really can conquer hate.”

Yousafzai began her activism by blogging about life in Pakistan under the Taliban and was shot in the head for speaking out. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work for education and equality. An Oxford University graduate and a self-professed TV fan, she struck a multi-year programming pact with Apple TV+ in 2021 through Extracurricular Productions, where she is president.

In October 2022, Yousafzai boarded “Joyland” as executive producer. The film tells the tale of a young Pakistani man from a patriarchal family who joins an erotic dance theater and falls for an ambitious transgender starlet. Directed by Saim Sadiq, the film premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes and was selected by Pakistan as its contender for best international feature at the Oscars. It remains in the Oscars race, having been included on the long list in the international feature category.

Yousafzai has also thrown her influence and media attention on other film projects. This includes working with “Don’t Look Up” director Adam McKay for a “Disorientation” adaptation and boarding an untitled A24-Apple documentary about the matriarchal “haenyeo” society of fisherwomen who live on South Korea’s Jeju Island.