Award-winning documentary film ‘Saving Mes Aynak’ released for free in Afghanistan

Saving Mes Aynak, an award-winning documentary film that follows Afghan archaeologist Qadir Temori in his campaign to save the Mes Aynak site in central Logar province from demolition by a Chinese company, has been released in Afghanistan.

A statement issued by the filmmakers on Tuesday said the Chicago-based documentary collective Kartemquin Films will release the documentary free to the people of Afghanistan.

Saving MesAynak, which had a world premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival 2014, exposes the plans ofChina Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC), a Chinese state-owned mining company, to turn a 5,000 archeological siteinto a copper mine, destroying old Buddhist relics.

The filmmakers are offering free stream of the much-awaited documentary to people in Afghanistan at www.savingmesaynak.com before midnight on July 1, which has been declared Save Mes AynakDay globally, according to the statement.

Located in Taliban-infested central Logar province, Mes Aynak is a 5,000 year-old Bronze age site and 2,000 year-old Buddhist Silk Road city of massive historical and cultural importance

For people in rest of the world, the filmmakers are currently offering streams, downloads, DVD/Blu-Rays, and public screenings of the documentary through their campaign on Indiegogo.

All funds raised, the statement adds, will go towards supporting the efforts in saving the historic site, and in educating people about the importance of preserving cultural heritage. 

Located in Taliban-infested central Logar province, Mes Aynak is a 5,000 year-old Bronze age site and 2,000 year-old Buddhist Silk Road city of massive historical and cultural importance.

Brent E. Huffman, director of Saving Mes Aynak, has not returned to Afghanistan since completing thefilm’s production work as he allegedly received kidnapping and death threats from insurgents controlling the area.

The film shows that many archeologists have faced violence while working at the dangerous site in Logar and vandalism of Buddhist relics continues unchecked.

“I want to go back and present the film personally in Afghanistan, but even if that is not possible we want the film to be seen there above all else,” says Mr. Huffman.“This is our gift to the people of Afghanistan, but also a challenge to those with the power to reverse this decision and save Mes Aynak.”


Mr. Huffman says the Afghan archaeologists are the only ones “trying to do something selfless and save this enormous archaeological site”.

“Afghanistan is not a rich country and they are under immense pressure to develop their mineral resources. But it will be very hard for anyone who sees the beauty of Mes Aynak, and the corruption going on, to still think mining this site will be beneficial for the country,” he says.

Mr. Huffman hopes the Save Mes Aynak Day on July 1 will “spark worldwide protest, conversation, and action” and then he plans to travel to Kabul and present both the film and a Change.org petition to Afghan government leaders, UNESCO officials and the people of Afghanistan.

“It will be the launch of a long-term educational campaign to reach as many people as we can with the message that humans need to protect their cultural heritage,” he says.

In November 2007, MCC was granted a 30-year lease for 3 billion USD, making it the biggest foreign investment in the history of Afghanistan

Mes Aynak, which translates into “little source of copper”, is a site located 40 km southeast of Kabul in central Logar province. It contains Afghanistan’s largest copper deposit and remains of an ancient settlement with more than 400 Buddhist relics.

In November 2007, MCC was granted a 30-year lease for 3 billion USD, making it the biggest foreign investment in the history of Afghanistan. The Ministry of Mines believes the site holds six million tons of copper and is expected to be worth tens of billions of dollars.

However, there have been concerns about environmental impact of the excavation and destruction of the age-old Buddhist relics. 

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