Sheffield soundtrack composer thrilled by BAFTA TV Award for My Childhood, My Country: 20 Years in Afghanistan

A Sheffield-born soundtrack composer is 'over the moon' after a film to which he contributed won at the prestigious BAFTA TV Awards 2022.

Friday, 13th May 2022, 1:12 pm
Updated Friday, 13th May 2022, 1:12 pm

Asa Bennett, who grew up in Loxley and Walkley, said the documentary 'My Childhood, My Country: 20 Years in Afghanistan' was up against some high-profile documentaries, and that just getting nominated was an accomplishment in itself.

The documentary, which won the Single Documentary category, chronicles the extraordinary story of a boy named Mir Hussein growing up in a land ravaged by war.

Mir, a mischievous and playful eight-year-old boy was first encountered by the filmmakers two decades ago when he and his family were living in the caves next to Buddhas of Bamiyan, in very harsh conditions.

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Asa Bennett on the red carpet of BAFTA TV Awards 2022 on May 8, 2022. Picture by Simon Fenton

Filmed and directed by Phil Grabsky and Shoaib Sharifi, the documentary follows Mir as he grows into a man with his own children, despite the fact that, at 27, he had never lived in a peaceful country.

The documentary edged out 9/11: Inside the President's War Room, Grenfell: The Untold Story, and Nail Bomber: Man Hunt.

Asa, who is now based in London, said: "Everyone says they weren’t expecting to win but we really weren’t. There were some high profile documentaries that we were up against that we were pretty sure would win.

"But just being nominated is an achievement so we were happy to go to the awards and enjoy the day.

"The moment they announced the award we were all completely stunned. It still feels surreal, but I’m over the moon and I’m especially happy for the directors and producers who have been working on this project for 20 years, which is an incredible feat of perseverance.

"Also, very importantly, it reminds people of the situation in Afghanistan which is still very difficult, especially for women."

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‘Incredible’ cinematography

The 50-year-old composer said the inspiration for the music came mainly from the story which reflects Mir's journey both through life and his relocation from the caves to his village and then to Kabul, where he ends up working as a news cameraman.

He said: "Over the years we see him grow up, move back to his family’s village, go to school, grow into an adult, get married, have his own children.

"In many ways it's a familiar story that we can all relate to, but the backdrop is the constantly changing situation in Afghanistan.

"The cinematography in the film is incredible so it was very inspiring to write music to. Afghanistan is a very beautiful country.”

Asa went to Myers Grove School in Sheffield before studying sound engineering at Red Tape Studios. He then moved to London where he's been based for the last 25 years.

He still returns to Sheffield to visit his family and friends whenever he gets the opportunity.

He said: "It's always great to be back in my hometown. London is great for work but I grew up with the Peak District on my doorstep so I do have to get back to that as often as I can."

Although he has won several awards over the years, winning a BAFTA was 'definitely the high point' for him.

"We didn’t think we would win so we weren’t even very nervous. After we won, the rest of the day turned into one very long celebration."

My Childhood, My Country – 20 Years in Afghanistan is available to watch online at www.mychildhoodmycountry.com