Participant Media is partnering with Image Nation Abu Dhabi as co-financier for an upcoming documentary about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student activist who hit the headlines after surviving a Taliban assassination attempt at 14.
In 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head when gunmen opened fire on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The then teenager, who had been targeted for speaking out on behalf of girls’ education in her community, and her shooting sparked a media storm of horror.
The project is being directed by Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for Superman) and is being produced by Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, whose banner Parkes+MacDonald has a long-term partnership with Image Nation.
Participant Media, in addition to its undisclosed financial commitment, also has pledged to work with Image Nation to launch a social action and advocacy campaign to expand the reach and impact of the documentary’s theatrical rollout.
Yousafzai was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the youngest such nominee in history.
The United Nations and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the organization’s special envoy for education, declared July 12, 2013, as “Malala Day” in support of her global education campaign, while her charity, The Malala Fund (www.malalafund.org), invests in projects that support education and empowerment of girls around the world.
The feature documentary will include Malala’s July 12 speech to the UN General Assembly, her first major public address since being shot.
Image Nation CEO Michael Garin said, “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.”
Jim Berk, Participant Media’s CEO, noted that 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,” Berk said.
Skoll is at the Skoll World Forum on Wednesday in Oxford, U.K., where Yousafzai is a featured guest and will speak about the project during his opening plenary.
Producers are aiming for a theatrical release in early 2015, although there is no distribution in place for the project which is set for a July 2014 shoot.
Participant Media has a long-standing relationship with Image Nation, having partnered on the Participant Media/Image Nation Film Fund, which ended in February 2013.
Participant subsequently sealed a deal with the Doha Film Institute for a $100 million revolving fund but this documentary reunites the old partners.
Movies made through the expired partnership include upcoming releases A Most Violent Year and Out of the Dark as well as box-office successes The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Help.