Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: My Childhood, My Country – 20 Years in Afghanistan

A young Mir

The first rule of documentary filmmaking is to never get involved. To observe your subject objectively and not interfere with the events taking place on screen. This often throws up a Pandora’s Box of moral and ethical questions. However, the moment you intervene not only do you change the focus of your film but you also take on a vested interest in the outcome. This is the tricky line taken in the excellent My Childhood, My Country – 20 Years in Afghanistan.

The history of Afghanistan is a turbulent one. In modern times, it has seen itself become a focal point for the Cold War, suffered the rise of The Taliban and al-Qaeda, US invasion and finally withdrawal. Whilst conflicts, wars and political machinations continue, ordinary civilians try and get on with their lives. Such as Mir. We meet him as a young boy playing in the ruins of a former tourist attraction which has been destroyed by Islamic extremists. My Childhood, My Country – 20 Years in Afghanistan follows his life over the next twenty years.

My Childhood, My Country – 20 Years in Afghanistan is a fascinating portrait of life in contemporary Afghanistan. Mir is a personable character and as we follow his progress into manhood, marriage and moving to the city, we’re afforded a glimpse of what it’s like living under constant threat. While much of the discussion may surround that intervention, Phil Grabsky and Shoaib Sharifi have crafted a documentary which acts as a counterpart to the wave on 9/11 anniversary content and a reminder that we all share many of the same hopes and fears.

My Childhood, My Country – 20 Years in Afghanistan screens at Sheffield Doc/Fest.

Previous See: Matt Evans' 'Firn', an evocation of geology, loss, piano and violin wound in tape decay, comes abstracted with VR visuals
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