×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Filmmakers Launch ‘Saving Mes Aynak’ Campaign for Afghan Archaeological Site

Filmmakers are launching a crowdfunding campaign to save Mes Aynak — a 5,000 year-old Buddhist archaeological site in Afghanistan — aimed at raising international pressure on a Chinese state-owned mining company, the Afghanistan government, and Unesco.

Variety has learned exclusively that the campaign for “Saving Mes Aynak”, which launches Monday, has a goal of raising $50,000 on the Indiegogo platform. Director Brent E. Huffman and documentary collective Kartemquin Films plan to distribute the film via VHX on July 1 with 10% of the raised funds going directly to funding archaeologists in preserving the site.

“Saving Mes Aynak” world premiered in November at the IDFA festival and screened in the U.S. at the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs and at the Full Frame Documentary Festival.

Mes Aynak contains Afghanistan’s largest copper deposit and over 400 Buddha statues, stupas and a 100-acre monastery complex. Archaeologists are beginning to find remnants of an older 5,000-year-old Bronze Age site beneath the Buddhist level.

The filmmakers are also hoping add signatures to a Change.org petition asking Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to spare the site from destruction via designation as a Unesco world heritage site.

“Saving Mes Aynak” follows Afghan archaeologist Qadir Temori as he races to save the site — located within Afghanistan’s Taliban-controlled Logar Province — from demolition by China Metallurgical Group Corp., which obtained rights to mine the site in 2007.

“The time to act is now,” Huffman said. “The world was outraged after the Taliban blew up the Buddhas of Bamiyan in 2001, and at the recent destruction by ISIS of the Mosul Museum in Iraq. My fear is that we’ll all gasp in horror when the site at Mes Aynak is permanently destroyed — but won’t do much when there was actually time to save it. The difference with Mes Aynak is that we aren’t up against religious fundamentalists, but a corporation.”

Zak Piper, producer of the film, said that he’s trying to get broadcasters around the world to show the film in July but added that there’s already an audience for the film, even in countries where broadcast documentary isn’t possible in this time frame. “Working with Indiegogo and VHX again, as Kartemquin did on the ‘Life Itself’ campaign, seemed like the ideal way to reach as many people globally at once and galvanize them into action through the film,” he said.

More Film

  • Veteran thesp adds voice to Federico

    Oscar-nominated Argentine Actress Norma Aleandro Heads to ‘Paradise’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Oscar-nominated Argentine actress Norma Aleandro will add her voice to “The Paradise” (El Paraiso), a noirish 2.5D animated feature directed by Federico Moreno Breser. Produced by Fernando Sirianni’s Nomad VFX, the project will take part in the Animation! Pitching Sessions in Ventana Sur this week. Set in 1920s Rosario – a city known as the [...]

  • Yellow Vests anti government protests with

    French Box Office Takes a Hit From 'Yellow Vests' Protests

    The violent “Yellow Vests” protests that have rocked France in recent weeks have also hit the movie business, dragging down local box-office performance in spite of several hit titles such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Le Grand Bain.” In Paris, where demonstrators rioted on three consecutive Saturdays, theatrical admissions recorded on Dec. 8 were about 20% lower than [...]

  • Oscars Predictions 2018 Illustration

    Oscar Predictions: 'A Star Is Born,' 'Mary Poppins Returns' Could Be Music to the Academy's Ears

    So far the film awards season has largely been shaped by box office dollars from the moviegoing public and assessments from committees of critics, journalists and other professionals. The actual industry has only just begun to weigh in, starting with last week’s Annie Awards nominations announcement. The Screen Actors Guild will add its collective voice Wednesday [...]

  • Oscars: 10 Standouts for This Year’s

    Oscars: 10 Standouts for This Year’s Best Picture Race

    With all of this year’s Oscar narratives thoroughly dissected and each of the contenders mapped out, it’s time for the first real assessment of this season’s best picture race in this space. Below are the top 10 players as we see it, with nominations just over a month away. (Also check out In Contention’s full [...]

  • Charles S Cohen Landmark Cinemas

    Charles S. Cohen on Plans for the Newly Acquired Landmark Theatres

    After seven years coveting fellow billionaire Mark Cuban’s Landmark Theatres, distributor, producer and real estate magnate Charles S. Cohen can finally call the chain of U.S. movie houses his own. Purchased for an undisclosed price last week following a seven-month negotiation, Cohen Media Group walked away with 52 theaters housing 252 screens in 20 markets, [...]

  • ‘Lost Paradise,’ ‘Ajooma,’ ‘Dogmen’ win Project

    IFFAM: ‘Lost Paradise,’ ‘Ajooma,’ ‘Dogmen’ win Project Market Awards

    “Lost Paradise,” from Macau and Hong Kong, won the best project award at the 3rd International Film Festival & Awards Macao’s project market. To be directed by Tracy Choi Ian-sin and produced by Lai Ching-man, the film will look at a girl’s breakdown after sexual harassment. The story is to be told from the point [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron, Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de

    Alfonso Cuaron Weighs In On Watching 'Roma' on the Big Screen Versus at Home on Netflix

    Director Alfonso Cuaron opted to work with Netflix for his latest film “Roma,” but the decorated filmmaker isn’t discounting the importance of a big-screen viewing. “The complete experience of ‘Roma’ is unquestionably in a movie theater,” Cuaron said Monday night at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles for the premiere of “Roma.”  The streaming giant did [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content