Director Brent E. Huffman interviewed on CNBC about Trump's plans for Afghanistan

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 11.26.28 PM.png

Director Brent E. Huffman was interviewed on CNBS regarding Trump administration's position on Afghanistan as U.S. newly measures its stake in Afghanistan's natural resources.

According to the CNBC report, the U.S. has spent upwards of $700 billion on Afghanistan's war, and the Trump administration is hoping to recoup some of that via its vast mineral wealth.

Stephen Feinberg, the billionaire financier who owns the military contractor DynCorp International, is informally advising Trump on Afghanistan, according to a report in The New York Times, which said the company may potentially play a role in safeguarding American mining operations. "We have no expectation of supporting commercial mining programs, but continue to work at the direction of the U.S. government," a DynCorp representative told CNBC.

The article introduces Saving Mes Aynak to explain the ongoing history of foreign countries, such as the U.S., Germany, and China, bargaining and claiming stakes in Afghanistan's natural resources. 

On Trump administration's possible interest in mining Afghanistan's natural resources, Director Brent E. Huffman commented, "American investment could potentially be worse" to CNBC.

He added that money from the sale of the mining rights could "solely benefit a very small number of corrupt officials," a legitimate fear given Afghanistan's checkered history with what the Brookings Institution recently called "predatory crime and corruption," as evidenced by the interviews and research shown in Saving Mes Aynak.

As of now, the mining of Saving Mes Aynak is still on hold. The Taliban had temporarily shown willingness to cooperate with the mining, but now, CNBC reports, the Trump administration may find the Taliban less than willing to be a partner in stabilizing the country.

The group has urged U.S. forces to leave Afghanistan, and asked Trump not to "hand over the Afghan issue to warmongering generals" as the president weighs a new strategy. On August 15, the Taliban wrote in an open letter that Trump must "understand the realities as a responsible president of the United States, and then make decisions based upon them." 

Despite the concerning report, Saving Mes Aynak team remains firm in our belief that Mes Aynak should remain a protected heritage site to be permanently preserved and studied for the advancement Afghanistan's cultural assets. 

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.