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International Festival Premieres Medill Professor’s Film

Documentary focuses on efforts to save threatened archaeological site in Afghanistan

EVANSTON, Ill. --- “Saving Mes Aynak”, a film by Northwestern University professor Brent Huffman, has been selected to have its world premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). The world's largest documentary film festival, IDFA, takes place Nov. 19 to 30.

The film follows Afghan archaeologist Qadir Temori as he races against time to save Mes Aynak, a 5,000-year-old archaeological site, from imminent demolition. Mes Aynak has more than 600 Buddha statues, devotional temples and an approximately 100-acre monastery complex 25 miles southeast of Kabul. The vast majority of relics and structures are underground; many are too large and fragile to be moved.

Huffman, a documentary filmmaker and assistant professor of journalism at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, has been independently shooting at Mes Aynak since 2011. He brought the documentary to Kartemquin Films in late 2013 through its KTQ Labs program.

The 60-minute film will compete in the IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary category. Director/producer Huffman, producer Zak Piper and executive producers Gordon Quinn and Julia Reichert will attend the festival.

Beyond teaching at Northwestern, Huffman has directed, produced, written, shot and edited documentaries and long-form videos for a variety of outlets including The New York Times, the National Geographic Channel, the Discovery Channel, CNN, PBS and more.

Huffman also was one of 18 out of nearly 500 filmmakers chosen to receive the MacArthur independent documentary film grant from the MacArthur Foundation to help him complete the documentary.

For more information on “Saving Mes Aynak,” visit

Topics: Visual Arts

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