British filmmaker Phil Grabsky travelled to central Afghanistan a few months after the fall of the Taliban at the end of 2001. His aim was to produce a cinema film that would explore the lives of ordinary Afghans. One young boy caught the filmmaker’s eye
Mir is ever-optimistic; a smile always on his face. He is cheeky, inquisitive and full of humour. And yet, when the film starts he is living on bread and water, and owns nothing — not one toy or book.
In 2002 we find Mir living in a cave alongside the recently destroyed huge stone Buddhas of Bamiyan. Within a year, Mir and his family have been able to return to their home in a small very remote village in the deserts of the north.
As the film progresses, like any boy growing up, Mir becomes more aware of the world and thus a little less happy-go-lucky. He begins by working hard at the village school (recently re-constructed with aid money) and is intent on becoming a teacher.
As the only son of an ailing father, it becomes clear that there is increasing call for the young boy to help support what is an extremely poor family. But Mir starts to turn his attention, however, from donkeys and helping the family, to motorbikes and having fun. His ambition to one day be a teacher or indeed president of Afghanistan changes; now he simply hopes not be killed in the fighting.
The Boy Mir reveals this day-to-day life of Mir and his family from a very close-up perspective. The narrative is driven by Mir’s journey into his early teens, when he will be expected to put his childish ways behind him and begin the difficult process of becoming a man. This is hard enough for any child, but Mir has to face this challenge in modern Afghanistan. In sum, this is a unique portrayal of life, full of humour, full of poignancy, in today’s Afghanistan.
The film screened on UK’s More4 on Saturday 13 July 2013, as The Boy From Bamiyan
“Sally-Ann and all at CBA have been invaluable in the development of our ten year project. With such a long-term film it was difficult to try and secure development or production funding so early on but CBA put their trust in Director Phil Grabsky and has supported the film from the outset. With this initial grant, we were able to put some taster material together which in turn generated further pre-sales and co-production deals for the film. Thank you again for all of your support!”
“The result is a film that is simplicity itself yet moving and revealing.” **** Derek Malcolm, London Evening Standard
“This fascinating documentary spans a decade in the life of an irrepressible boy…a portrait of resilience and optimism of young.” **** Laurence Phelan, The Independent
“Fascinating…beautiful.” **** Ed Porter, The Sunday Times
“Keenly observed and totally authentic, this is pioneering stuff.” Paul Bradshaw, Total Film
“The young hero stumbles into adulthood against the backdrop of war, making you laugh and breaking your heart in equal measure” Village Voice, New York
“Mir gets under your skin in ways that are memorable and poignantly real” Gary Goldstein, LA Times
“An understanding of Afghan culture better than anything we’ve seen yet, it’s well worth its ninety minute screen time, and a lot more” Jules Brenner, www.filmcritic.com
“A fascinating peek at everyday rural Afghan life” Denis Harvey, Variety
“Revealing, sobering, and memorable.” Malcolm Lewis, New Internationalist
Winner Best Documentary Film, Santa Barbara 2011
Official Selection Full Frame Festival 2011
Winner Audience Award, Washington DC 2011
Official Selection Thessaloniki 2011
Official Selection IDFA 2010