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TCA: Malala’s Dad—Her Gift of Communication ‘Comes Through Generations’

Pasadena, Calif. — “They thought that the bullet would silence us…I tell my story not because it is unique; it is the story of many girls,” says Malala Yousafzai in a clip of HeNamed Me Malala screened Wednesday during National Geographic Channels’ TCA winter press tour session. "Let us pick up our books and our pens.”

Feature documentary He Named Me Malala, released by Fox Searchlight in October, will premiere commercial-free on National Geographic Channel Feb. 29.

Malala’s dad Ziauddin Yousafzai, participating in a panel on the film via Skype, said his famous activist daughter’s talent for inspiring words “comes through generations.”

“As you see in the film, my father is a very good speaker. He’s spreading fire,” Yousafzai said, adding that he wished he was a speaker like his father but he speaks "too long." Malala is “much more sophisticated, short and concise. Really she impresses me when she speaks.”

“Usually in my country we shout and shake hands,” he continued. “She’s very quiet and poised and what comes out of her mouth is very powerful.”

Yousafzai underscored the importance of education, the cause his daughter, who was shot by the Taliban when she was 15 for speaking out about education for girls, is dedicated to. He said his education changed him and helped him see the roles of females differently from others in his country.

“If we want to change the mindset of people we need to educate them,” he said.

A critic asked the panel—which also included the film’s director-producer Davis Guggenheim and producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald—for their take on Donald Trump’s comments about Muslims. The Republican presidential candidate has proposed bans on Muslims entering the U.S. and has called for a database to track Muslim-Americans in response to terrorist attacks.

“It doesn’t fit into my logic, to be honest,” Yousafzai said of Trump’s popularity, saying that it’s hurtful for “many, many people” and “we need to have harmony” in our societies and countries.

Guggenheim noted that he’s been grateful that he’s not living in the era of McCarthyism, but that “hearing (Trump) worries me that my children are growing up” amid such talk. The filmmaker said that Yousafzai and his daughter, the broadcast of the film on Nat Geo, and “their message of tolerance” are “the perfect antidote.” He added, “Donald Trump should see this movie.”

Malala was not at the panel because, according to National Geographic Global Networks CEO Courteney Monroe, she “is back at school fully dedicated to her studies.”