‘Saving Mes Aynak’ on iTunes, Amazon, Netflix coming soon
EVANSTON - “Saving Mes Aynak,” the documentary by a Northwestern University filmmaker about a race to save the 5,000-year-old Buddhist archaeological site from destruction, has been released on DVD and digitally by iTunes and Amazon. The film is expected to debut on Netflix in January.
"Saving Mes Aynak" has received rave reviews around the world and been honored with numerous awards. Director Brent Huffman will show the film at the prestigious National Gallery in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 27.
Beneath Mes Aynak lie huge copper reserves worth an estimated $100 billion. The site’s owners, a state-owned Chinese mining company, plan to begin excavating this year. In the process of open-pit mining, the entire site could be destroyed.
Huffman, an associate professor of journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, spent four years documenting the work at Mes Aynak and continues to advocate for its preservation.
“The biggest success of the documentary is to have delayed mining from happening at Mes Aynak for more than four years,” Huffman said. “The awareness campaign around the film was also able to raise over $10,000 to buy necessary equipment for the Afghan archaeologists risking their lives at the archaeological site.”
Located within a Taliban-controlled region in Afghanistan, Mes Aynak is a significant cultural and historical site, potentially comparable to Machu Picchu or Pompeii. A sprawling, epic city, it is home to over 600 life-size or larger Buddhist statues, dozens of temple structures and an enormous circular complex. So far, only an estimated 10 percent of the site has been excavated.
But the threat to Mes Aynak remains despite the film’s success.
“The bad news is that the Afghan government could end the archaeological dig and let the mining company begin mining at any time,” he said. “I am working to bring in enough international support to permanently protect and preserve Mes Aynak and stop all mining from happening in this area.”