Saving Mes Aynak, a love letter to Afghan people and their culture

A denunciation shouted to the world, a fight against time in order to save Mes Aynak, a 5,000-year-old archaeological site in Afghanistan. A symbol of cultural identity of priceless historical value, this place is threatened to be destructed to make place for a Chinese open pit copper mine.

Saving Mes Aynak, a documentary by the filmmaker, writer and journalist Brent E. Huffman, shows all this and much more. Awarded with the International One-Hour Film Prize at CinemAmbiente 2015, member of the Green Film Network, the movie tells the story of the Afghan archeologist Qadir Temori: with a group of fellow archeologists, he faces what seems an impossible battle against the Chinese, the Taliban and local politics to save their cultural heritage from forthcoming erasure.


Nowadays only 10% of Mes Aynak has been excavated and due to current and possible future discoveries some believe the site have the potential to redefine the history of Afghanistan and Buddhism itself.

I fell in love with Afghanistan back in 2004 when I covered the first democratic elections ever held in KabulBrent Huffman, who has kindly accepted to answer our questions about the documentary, tells us. “Not to speak in stereotypes but after decades of continuous war, Afghans remain some of the most warm hospitable resilient people I have ever met. In many ways “Saving Mes Aynak” is intended to be a love letter to the people of Afghanistan who are now threatened by the loss of their own history as well as the massive environmental devastation and loss of human rights that this open pit copper mine will cause”.


These are disquieting premises. Asking how the situation is developing right now and how people can help to solve it is spontaneous and deserved. The current situation at Mes Aynak is very bad. The foreign archaeologists have left the site due to security. Looting is happening at Mes Aynak at night. Archaeologists are being threatened by the Taliban daily. And archaeologists could be permanently forced out of Mes Aynak at any moment to make way for mining that will completely destroy the 5,000 year old 500,000 square meter city as well as the environment of Mes Aynak”.

But there is still hope, and trying to help is up to us, active audience and members of the international community. “Cinema can make a far away issue like this one emotional, even personalthe filmmaker continues. “It was my goal to make the issue of saving cultural heritage emotional through the eyes of an Afghan citizen (read Qadir Temori) fighting to preserve his county’s history – even risking his own life to do it”. So, outside the screen and theaters, we can concretely act to support the cause:The Afghan government is the gatekeeper to saving the site. People interested can sign the official petition and contact the Afghan government directly”.


On both the website and the Facebook fan page people can be constantly updated about the situation and finding out how to get involved in this important rescue mission: from the organization of screenings to donations, from simple social sharing to the proposal of new ideas and projects to save the site. Whole works, hopefully, fast: because time is running out, and Mes Aynak must live.