The Boy Mir Documentary is as Gripping as Artist Christiana Mohr's Quest to Show it in OC

Categories: DUI-yi-yi, Film
How an award-winning documentary about a boy in an Afghan mountain village wound up with a screening date in a Santa Ana art gallery Tuesday evening sounds worthy of a film itself. The movie is The Boy Mir: Ten Years in Afghanistan, and it's screening as part of an Afghan New Year celebration and fundraiser for the main character's village thanks to an artist in residence at the event venue, Great Over Good collective in South Santa Ana.

In an email that could double as a movie pitch, artist Christiana Mohr, 25, of Fountain Valley, reveals bringing the film's British director, Phil Grabsky, to Orange County to screen The Boy Mir for charity began with a dream shortly after she regained consciousness after being hit by a drunk driver last October. A week before that accident, she had seen the documentary after channel surfing in her hotel room in the Arizona desert.

Mohr writes that she had quit her job working for a government contractor as an agricultural technical aid in September and decided to embark on a month-long vacation visiting friends in Colorado with stops in Utah and Arizona on the way back to OC.

Aimee Aileen Vasquez/
Aimee Aileen Photography
Christiana Mohr on the mend.
"I was going through a deep depression," she explains. "My cousin, who works at a holistic wilderness retreat center in Utah, got me to open up to him while I was visiting him. He was encouraging, but I knew I needed more guidance."

She'd heard about St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Monastery in the southern Arizona desert, where an elaborate system of gardens, pathways and gazebos with Spanish fountains were known to allow day visitors to clear their heads. It was a near-empty hotel near the monastery where Mohr landed on The Boy Mir on a local PBS station.

"He looked just like my little brother," she recalled of the main character. "We're Chinese-Danish-American. I was shocked. I started when the film was already 20 minutes in and I had no idea what was going on, but I was sucked into the screen and had to finish it."

The titular subject had a complicated family life, nearly no belongings and very little education, yet Grabsky portrayed him as enthusiastic, energetic and excelling in school. Those in the boy's tiny ethnic-Hazara mountain village had fled famine and fundamentalist Islam rule after the Taliban six months after 9/11 blew up giant stone Buddhas that had stood for hundreds of years in tall, narrow caves. The villagers returned to their damaged homes after American forces ran out the Taliban, making due as they always had without electricity, running water, sewers or paved roads. Grabsky tracks 10 years in the boy's life until he reaches adulthood. Here is the trailer:

Besides the monks and their tranquil monastery, The Boy Mir had seared itself into Mohr's mind as she drove away for home. She estimates it was about two weeks after seeing the film that she was involved in the collision that sent her to an emergency room.

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