Saving Mes Aynak returns to Italy for Rassegna International Film Festival!

Saving Mes Aynak returns to Italy after the Life After Oil Film Festival, where the film won the award for Best Feature Documentary. This time, Saving Mes Aynak will be screening at Rassegna, at the International Archaeological Film Festival of Rassegna. We are excited for this opportunity to show the film again to the community that show great appreciation for cultural heritage!  

Saving Mes Aynak screening to the youth of India!


Saving Mes Aynak will be screening at the World Environmental Film Festival in Hyderabad, India. Hyderabad is the capital of southern India's Telangana state. It is one of major tech cities in India. Through this Festival, Saving Mes Aynak will be screened to high school and college students throughout the city, provoking awareness and conversations about international preservation issues. Stay tuned!

June 3-9, 2017 | Hyderabad, India

This week: SMA plays in Stockach, Germany for Afghan refugees

Pic: Front page of the Refugee Help site of Stockach:

Pic: Front page of the Refugee Help site of Stockach:

"Saving Mes Aynak" is screening to the townspeople of Stockach on May 26th. Stockach is near Lake Constance, south of Germany, not far from the Swiss border. It is a small town of 10,000 residents and a host to various refugees from the Middle East, including the two Afghan refugees who will be attending and speaking at the screening about their experiences. 

The screening was organized by Charlotte Blank, who volunteered her time and efforts to translate "Saving Mes Aynak" into German. Through her fellow volunteers who teach German to Afghan refugees in Stockach, Charlotte managed to organize this meaningful occasion for the Stockach community to share their stories through stories of Mes Aynak. 

Supporter-organized screenings like this makes the Saving Mes Aynak team see the engine behind our work. In 2017, we seek more opportunities than ever to show "Saving Mes Aynak" to Afghan citizens resettled across the globe!


Evangelical Community House, Tuttlingerstr. 2, Stockach, 78333 Germany

Friday, 26 May, 19:30 - 21:00

Saving Mes Aynak Named CINE Golden Eagle Finalist!

Saving Mes Aynak is named CINE Golden Eagle Finalist in the category of Nonfiction Content: Feature – Current Affairs or Investigations. Other honorees include POV's Hooligan Sparrow and The Return, Al Jazeera Media Network's The Poacher's Pipeline, and EPIX's original documentary series America Divided. We are grateful for this honor and congratulations to all finalists!

Director Brent E. Huffman to speak at a UChicago collegium

Director Brent E. Huffman will be a panelist at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society on May 3, this Wednesday. Themed "Antiquities as Global Contraband: What Do We Know, and What Can We Do? - Lessons from Afghanistan", the Wednesday's panel will include experts from the Oriental Institute and Department of Anthropology at DePaul University, along with Director Huffman. Director Brent E. Huffman will speak on “Mes Aynak: Past, Present, and Future of an Ancient Buddhist City in Afghanistan.” We are looking for an opportunity to share findings from Mes Aynak and its meaningful recent news with various scholars!

Former General Manager of MCC Fired from the Party

Shen Heting of MCC meets Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on October 18, 2012. Photo: Handout

Shen Heting of MCC meets Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on October 18, 2012. Photo: Handout

Shen Heting, the former general manager of the China Metallurgical Group Corp (MCC), a state-owned Chinese company, is expelled from the Community Party for corruption, South China Morning Post reports. 

Shen held the position of party general secretary of MCC when the Mes Aynak deal was sealed in 2007. At the time, the 3-billion-dollar deal was the biggest foreign investment for the Chinese government. Details of his corruption is not revealed, but the expel means political death sentence for the state-owned company manager.

It's been a decade since the mining deal of Mes Aynak, yet the demolition process has yet to begin, due to security problems of Afghanistan and the ever-delaying negotiation process to revisit contract terms of the mining deal. Local residents, archaeologists and environmentalists worldwide, as the supporters of Mes Aynak know, contributed significantly to delaying the mining and allowing time to unearth invaluable artifacts from Mes Aynak to be documented and preserved at the National Museum of Kabul

We will have to watch further to see if this new development will affect Mes Aynak in any way. Thank you so much for your continued support of Mes Aynak.

Saving Mes Aynak at UC Berkeley!

Saving Mes Aynak is coming to the UC Berkeley campus for a screening with Near Eastern StudiesCenter for Middle Eastern StudiesCenter for Buddhist Studies, and Institute for South Asia Studies. Director Brent E. Huffman will attend in person, and Sanjyot Mehendale, from Near Eastern Studies will moderate the post-screening discussion. This is a nice comeback to the Bay Area since the San Francisco Green Film Festival last spring. Invite your Bay Area friends!

Ancient, near-pristine Buddha from Mes Aynak revealed at Kabul Museum

A 2012 excavation from Mes Aynak has been spectacularly restored by a team of French, Italian, and Afghan workers, and now unveiled at the Kabul National Museum.

The statue is a fruit of assiduous work by archaeologists on the site of Mes Aynak and a rare rescue from relentless looters, who left many of Mes Aynak's Buddha statues headless. The colors of the statue is still vibrant and reveals Greek influence brought by Alexander the Great around 330 BC. Details of the face, the black curls of the Buddha's bun, its pink cheeks and deep blue eyes point to a "truly sophisticated technique," of Mes Aynak craftsmen of the time, says Ermano Carbonara, an Italian expert who worked on the restoration.

It's great to hear that restored works from Mes Aynak continue to go on display for the public at the National Museum. However, Kabul and Mes Aynak are hardly safe from security threats, as shown in this month's horrific news of the attack of Kabul Hospital. Continued and substantial support and attention from within the country and from the international community is as critical as ever. 

International screenings of Saving Mes Aynak, Spring 2017!


Saving Mes Aynak makes its round around the world this spring! The film heads to Stockholm, Sweden for Afghan Documentary Film Festival later in March through April. Saving Mes Aynak screens in Denmark as well at the Danish Film Institute/Cinematheque on April 21. 

It's also our great pleasure to announce that Saving Mes Aynak will screen at the prestigious Art-Law Center of University of Geneva as part of a class with Prof. Renold, an attorney-at-law in the area of cultural heritage law and the director of the Center. We are excited to introduce Mes Aynak to the promising art law students at University of Geneva!

Saving Mes Aynak will be at Verde Valley Archaeology Center for the International Archaeology Film Festival in Camp Verde, AZ this week. The film is making its round across the U.S., next to the Buddhist Sitting Group at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Georgia on April 1st.  Director Brent E. Huffman will attend a campus-wide screening at UC Berkeley in person on April 19. On April 23, Saving Mes Aynak will screen at Midwest Buddhist Temple, then at the American Institute of Afghan Studies at Boston University. In June, Saving Mes Aynak will be at UCLA for a screening with Fowler Museum.

We hope that Saving Mes Aynak continues to engage audiences around the world in meaningful ways!

A Successful Screening at University of Chicago!

Saving Mes Aynak had a successful screening at the University of Chicago for a class called "Cultural Heritage and Cultural Diplomacy" with Professor Larry Rothfield, the co-founder of the Cultural Policy Center at University of Chicago. One of the attendees of the screening, in fact, purchased Save Mes Aynak T-shirts from our website to distribute at the screening. It's lovely to see supporters of Mes Aynak in a group!


Saving Mes Aynak at the Museum of Macedonia!

Archaeological Museum of Macedonia, one of the oldest museums of the world. Source: Lonely Planet

Archaeological Museum of Macedonia, one of the oldest museums of the world. Source: Lonely Planet

Saving Mes Aynak will screen at the Museum of Macedonia tomorrow! The Association of Archaeology Students of Skopje (Axios) at the University of Skopje has worked on putting the screening together. Thanks to a volunteer translator from the region, who introduced Saving Mes Aynak to Axios, the film will also be available with Macedonian, Croatian, and Bulgarian subtitles! Saving Mes Aynak has been introduced to a wide range of press, thanks to the help of Axios organizers. We are delighted for this opportunity to show the film in a region the film has never been to before. 


Museum of Macedonia, Kjurchiska, Skopje 1000, Macedonia

2PM, Feb 28th


Saving Mes Aynak makes headlines worldwide - streaming on Netflix


Saving Mes Aynak has continued to spark dialogue and make headlines regarding the imminent destruction of a Mes Aynak, one of the world's most significant archaeological excavations, by a Chinese state-owned mining company eager to harvest $100 billion dollars worth of copper buried directly beneath the archaeological ruins.

Read about Saving Mes Aynak in the following publications:

  • CNBC: China plans to destroy an ancient Buddhist city to get the copper buried there
  • International Business Times: China to destroy 5,000 year-old Buddhist city in Afghanistan for copper extraction
  • South China Morning Post: China plans to destroy ancient Buddhist city to get copper bonanza
  • CatchNews: China to destroy ancient Buddhist city of 'Mes Aynak' in Afghanistan for copper mining
  • Yahoo! News: China to destroy ancient Buddhist city of 'Mes Aynak' in Afghanistan for copper mining
  • Boeddhistisch Dagblad: China already engaged in destroying Buddhist city Mes Aynak
  • Mongols China and the Silk Road Blog: Medill Professor Brent Huffman discusses his award-winning film 'Saving Mes Aynak'
  • Spirituality Practice: An Afghan archaeologist's passionate attempts to defend one of this century's most significant discoveries of a sacred site
  • Daily Pioneer: China's new-found but fake love for religion
  • Global Buddhist DoorM: is time running out for the 5,000 year-old Mes Aynak archaeological site in Afghanistan?

Saving Mes Aynak is now available on Netflix!

For upcoming screenings and ways to get involved in #SavingMesAynak, click here.

Saving Mes Aynak featured on CNBC!

The fight to preserve Mes Aynak is still on and CNBC is helping to continue to share the movement with the world with this recent story written on Mes Aynak and the film. Though things have looked grim recently, coverage like this and sparking outrage at what MCC plans to do to Mes Aynak is exactly what we need to make sure Afghanistan's cultural heritage is preserved. 

According to UNESCO advisor Tim Williams, interviewed for the piece, Mes Aynak should be qualified as a World Heritage site if the government of Afghanistan were to apply for that status:"This is an outstanding and complex archaeological landscape, with astounding quality of preservation."

Please share this story, watch the film on Netflix whether it's your first or tenth time, host a screening in your community, and contact the Afghan government and president Ghani directly to express your support for turning Mes Aynak into a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Saving Mes Aynak on Netflix and End-of-Year Updates!

Dear Supporter of Mes Aynak,

As we reflect back on a tumultuous 2016 and celebrate the holidays with our loved ones, we hope we can take a moment to remember Mes Aynak and what is at stake for the cultural history of the world if this ancient city were to be destroyed. We are committed to saving Mes Aynak in 2017 - but we need your help.  

Please read on for important updates about the film and awareness campaign to save and protect this priceless ancient site.  Thank you for your continued support.



This January, "Saving Mes Aynak" will stream on Netflix! This is a major opportunity for the film to be seen by American audiences so make sure to share the news with your family and friends. The film is also now available with Spanish subtitles, making it easier to share at bilingual workplaces and schools.

The special edition DVD of "Saving Mes Aynak" is on sale!  Until January 1st, you can get the DVD for only $14.99 (50% off!) with the coupon code "KTQ50." 

The DVD features 15 minutes of never-seen-before scenes from Mes Aynak, as well as closed captions and foreign language subtitles in French, German, Italian, and Japanese.

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While supplies last, you can also purchase the official and limited edition posters of "Saving Mes Aynak" on our website. Our newest item for sale is the official "Save Mes Aynak" T-shirt with the signature image of the Sitting Buddha statue discovered at Mes Aynak. The special edition DVD, film poster, and T-shirt all make great holiday gifts!

All proceeds from the sale of T-shirts will go toward the awareness campaign to save Mes Aynak.


"Saving Mes Aynak" had many successful screenings around the world and in the U.S this fall.

In October, the film screened in Athens, Greece at AGON, the 10th annual International Meeting of Archaeological Films. "Saving Mes Aynak" was incredibly well received and went on to win the Grand Prize of the fest!

At the end of October, the film screened both in France at ICRONOS, the International Archaeological Film Festival in Bordeaux, and in Virginia at the American Conservation Film Festival. At both festivals, audiences and jury members alike continued to fall in love with the film, being awarded both the Grand Prize and the Audience Award at ICRONOS and winning the Green Spark award, highlighting conservation heroes, at the American Conservation Film Festival.

Panelists announce "Saving Mes Aynak" as the Grand Prize winner at ICRONOS, France, to the 350+ person audience

Panelists announce "Saving Mes Aynak" as the Grand Prize winner at ICRONOS, France, to the 350+ person audience

In November, the film traveled the world from the United States, to Europe, to the Middle East. The film first stopped in Lebanon for the Beirut Art Film Festival and then played the next day in Cooperstown, NY at Glimmerglass Film Days. "Saving Mes Aynak" had a successful, full-house screening there, on the shores of Lake Otsego, and had a wonderful post-screening discussion lead by Hannah Bloch, NPR Digital Editor and former Time correspondent in Afghanistan.  


At The International Festival of Archaeological Films of Bidasoa in San Sebastian Spain, "Saving Mes Aynak" won big, taking home both the Grand Prize of the Jury and the Audience Favorite Award. It's the first time in the 15 years of the festival that a single film has taken home both prizes. We are very grateful to the festival for the awards and for providing us with Spanish subtitles for the film!


Saving Mes Aynak broadcast on Histoire, a French TV channel, five times throughout October and November. "Saving Mes Aynak" continues to be available on VOD and on air on the Buddhist True Network (BTN) of South Korea.


We were very honored to participate in the 2016 edition of the China Onscreen Biennial as a part of the Dunhuang Projected sidebar. We first screened at the UCLA Film & Television Archives which started with a 30-minute meditation session and ended with a discussion, via Skype, with Director Brent Huffman. Last week, Brent attended the second screening for the Biennial at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Both screenings were incredibly well attended and mark a very important step in raising awareness of Mes Aynak in the United States.

Starting today, "Saving Mes Aynak" will be a part of Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference at the University of Southampton. "Sightations" is an archaeology-inspired exhibition running as part of this year’s Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) conference, featuring mediums of "drawings, photography, comics, painting, sculpture, textiles, ceramic, CGI, film, video, gaming, virtual reality, and digital works" that "unpack what it means to represent archaeology visually in 2016."

We are excited for this opportunity to show the film in the UK for the second time this year, after our Bertha DocHouse screening, alongside various artists who, in their own ways demonstrate "future directions for archaeological visualizations."

It's such an honor to receive this great recognition from the international archaeology community and to continue to share the film in meaningful programs around the world. Thank you! Now, it is more important than ever to spread the word about Mes Aynak throughout our communities to stop this senseless destruction from happening.



While we continue towards our goal of raising awareness around the world to protect Mes Aynak, we still have an uphill battle to face from those who want to mine and destroy Mes Aynak. That battle became even more difficult and pressing today as we learned of the report that the Taliban in Afghanistan have offered to provide security to major government projects, such as the mining of the copper deposit in Mes Aynak, a natural gas pipeline project, and other highway and railway projects.


Although excavation efforts in Mes Aynak have slowed down significantly due to threats by the Taliban, it was this instability of security that has continued to force MCC to hold off on mining Mes Aynak. Now, with the Taliban on the side of mining, the peace of Mes Aynak is in immediate danger.

People are voicing their frustration at the news:

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Although critics in Afghanistan, including the Afghan government, are responding to Taliban's announcement with suspicion, there is no denial that this move will begin to clear the way for mining to begin in Mes Aynak at any moment. If this happens, all preserved and undiscovered cultural heritage on site will be obliterated.


Now, it is more important than ever to spread the word about Mes Aynak throughout our communities.

An illustration created by National Geographic Magazine depicting what Mes Aynak may have looked like 2,000 years ago.

An illustration created by National Geographic Magazine depicting what Mes Aynak may have looked like 2,000 years ago.

Since the 2014 premiere, "Saving Mes Aynak" has traveled the world and engaged with audiences of all kinds to spread awareness to the endangered beauty and cultural significance of Mes Aynak. Yet, now with the Taliban clearing the way, mining in Mes Aynak can start any time.

As an international community of protectors for Mes Aynak, we must keep our opposition strong and take action. Please consider taking on one of these actions today:

Host screenings of the film for your community. Tell us of any opportunities to show the film to any relevant experts and officials in your area.

Sign the petition asking Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani and others to preserve the site. 

Write letters to President Ghani and other Afghan officials expressing your support. 

Contact your local U.S. embassy or your closest Afghan embassy to let them know that you support the protection of Mes Aynak.

Contact your UNESCO office and let them know that you want to preserve Mes Aynak.

Volunteer to translate our film into other languages to reach a global audience. 

- Share your ideas by emailing us at or on our website.

- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtag #SaveMesAynak to tell your social network why Mes Aynak matters to you.

We hope to see the Afghan government invite UNESCO to officially designate Mes Aynak a protected World Heritage Site. 


Brent E. Huffman and the "Saving Mes Aynak" Team

Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture announces satellite research results!

Video from Tolo News. English subtitles to be available soon.

The Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC) announced on Sunday that 5,260 ancient sites through various Afghan provinces have been detected so far by the satellite research conducted in collaboration with foreign organizations [such as UNESCO and the Oriental Institute].  

Qadir Temori, the protagonist of film "Saving Mes Aynak" has led the project as Head of the Archaeology Department of the MoIC. “Our plan has just started and it will continue for five years. I am sure our activities will increase once the final map is ready," Qadir said in the press conference.

According to the report, a number of visitors at the National Museum in Kabul urged government to ensure the safety of historical sites and relics around the country, while the chairman of the Museum, Mohammad Fahim Rahimi, appealed for a new building for the Museum, “because lack of space is a big problem for us."

This is the first time since the April announcement of the satellite project on Mes Aynak that the Afghan government is publicizing results from the research. It is great to hear that archaeology efforts have been ongoing in Afghanistan - certainly a good news for the Christmas holidays! However, it is not clear how or whether the Afghan government will work to preserve and promote these identified archaeological sites against the mining deal. Our work in advocating the cultural preservation of Mes Aynak, therefore, is not done.

2017 is quickly approaching as we stand firmly in our pledge to support Mes Aynak for more years to come.