Stephen J. Miller gives My Childhood My Country three out of five tugs in his latest film review.
This film is why I am so grateful that the Patricia Theater has reopened with the Powell River Film Festival. There is nothing quite like watching a movie on the “big screen” and this movie lives up to that expectation.
My childhood, my country: 20 years in Afghanistan is a great panoramic film about survival, family life and geopolitical influences. The story is simple: A family faces survival challenges in finding food, keeping warm in the cold of winter, getting medicine in the event of illness, and finding shelter in the event of war.
The story begins with a bang, a suicide bomber and death, and, the story ends with the oppression and takeover of the country by the extremist Taliban. But the real story is that of Mir, a charismatic and happy child, who grows up in the mountains of Afghanistan.
Filmmakers Phil Grabsky and Shoaib Sharifi articulate their take on family with the 911 attack on the World Trade Center in New York, the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan by the Americans and NATO, the struggle and the resistance of the Taliban and finally the takeover of the country by the Taliban.
Mir and her family only want to live in peace with the essentials of healthy living. However, they are forced to adapt to the ever-changing influences that are trying to control the country. They are forced to eat grass and work in the coal mines to survive. They become wanderers, adapting and showing resilience in the face of the forces around them. They are neither religious nor political but caught up in the struggle between western and extreme Islamic values.
The filmmakers began by collecting video footage of Mir and her family living in a cave in the mountains and their filming took 20 years, from 2001 to 2021. Over time, the filmmakers’ POV focused more on the external influences of Americans, Russians, Chinese, Indians, NATO, etc., and how the Afghan people confronted the Western world as well as the resistance of the Taliban. There is a fine line that Mir and her family had to cross to stay safe and continue their journey through the turmoil of their country.
The cinematography is breathtaking – panoramic in all its glory. This is one of the reasons why this film has to be shown on the big screen. Kudos and awards should go to the filmmakers, actors and cinematographers, including the footage provided by Mir Hussain, the grown boy and now photojournalist.
My childhood, my country: 20 years in Afghanistan scratched the surface of family life in Afghanistan. It made me want to travel around the country and experience the culture of its people, however, at this time, it will be impossible for westerners.
It’s a beautiful film with a story about cultural values, struggles, resilience and adaptation. For all these reasons, I recommend this movie with three out of five tugs.
Show time for My childhood, my country: 20 years in Afghanistan is 7 p.m. on October 8 at Patricia Theater.
Stephen J. Miller is a creative feature film and television producer and writer, and former owner of repertory theaters.