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Sneak Preview of Documentary ‘Saving Mes Aynak’

Film follows efforts to save threatened archaeological site in Afghanistan

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art will present a sneak preview this Friday of Professor Brent Huffman’s documentary “Saving Mes Aynak.”

The documentary follows Afghan archaeologist Qadir Temori in a race against time as he deals with intense political challenges to save a 5,000-year-old archaeological site in Afghanistan from imminent demolition by a Chinese state-owned mining company.

Only 10 percent of Mes Aynak has been excavated, and some believe future discoveries at the site have the potential to redefine the history of Afghanistan and the history of Buddhism itself.

Huffman, a documentary filmmaker and assistant professor of journalism in Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, will attend the screening.

Free and open to the public, “Saving Mes Aynak” will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday, March 6, at the Block Cinema, 40 Arts Circle Drive, on the Evanston Campus.

Huffman has been independently shooting at Mes Aynak since 2011 and was one of 18 out of nearly 500 filmmakers chosen to receive an independent documentary film grant from the MacArthur Foundation to help him complete the film.

An estimated $100 billion dollars worth of copper is buried directly beneath the archaeological ruins, and the film illustrates the challenges that Temori and his fellow Afghan archaeologists face as they deal with the Chinese, the Taliban and local politics to save their cultural heritage from likely erasure.

Huffman brought “Saving Mes Aynak” to Kartemquin Films in late 2013 through its KTQ Labs program. The film premiered in November in Europe at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, where work by Americans is seldom screened. The 60-minute film competed in the IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary category. Director/producer Huffman, producer Zak Piper and executive producers Gordon Quinn and Julia Reichert attended the festival.

“Saving Mes Aynak” recently won a large award in Iran and played at a prestigious festival in France called FIPA. The documentary will make its television debuts in the U.S. on Al Jazeera America in late spring, and then Al Jazeera English in the Middle East and Europe.

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.

For more information on “Saving Mes Aynak,” visit

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