ITV is to broadcast the UK premiere of director Phil Grabsky’s film following the life of a boy in Afghanistan over two decades, telling his story and that of his country in the years that followed 9/11.

Produced by Grabsky’s Seventh Art, the first foreign film-maker inside Afghanistan following the ousting of the Taliban from central power after 9/11, and Shoaib Sharifi, My Childhood, My Country – 20 Years in Afghanistan follows Mir Hussain from boy to man across the twenty year period.

Grabsky’s first film on Mir’s life showed him as a cheeky funny seven-year-old living in a cave next to the destroyed Buddhas of Bamiyan statues in central Afghanistan in The Boy Who Plays on the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Over the following two decades the film bears witness to his adventures and Afghanistan’s struggles.

The film follows his life until, as an adult with a family of his own, he decides to pursue his own career as a news cameraman in Kabul. More than a personal journey, My Childhood, My Country – 20 Years in Afghanistan, offers powerful insight into what has – and has not – been achieved in Afghanistan over the past 20 years.

Kevin Lygo, Managing Director, Media & Entertainment at ITV: “20 years in the making, following the story of mischievous and endearing seven-year-old Mir Hussain from 2001 to 2021, this film is both a remarkable portrait of one child’s life in Afghanistan and of the conflict that has engulfed the region. This unique film could not be more timely.”

Phil Grabsky said: “It feels like only yesterday that I jumped on a plane to go and see for myself what life was like in Afghanistan – and just who the Afghans really were. Great fortune then meant I met both my co-director Shoaib and Mir – then living in the rubble of the destroyed Buddhas of Bamiyan statues. No-one could have anticipated the adventures we have all been on over the past 20 years as we made this film – a film that sought to see what the result of international intervention would be, and what became of the £2.3trillion investment. I can safely say that no film has captured the life inside an Afghan family in the way this one does. And little did we know that the final days of filming would coincide with the Taliban once again being in control of the country.”

My Childhood, My Country – 20 Years in Afghanistan will be shown in September on ITV and ITV Hub.

Jon Creamer

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