"The Land of the Enlightened"
World Cinema Documentary Competition
Luminous cinematography illustrates a horrific life for children in Afghanistan, in the powerful documentary "The Land of the Enlightened." In the northern Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan, in what the locals call "The Roof of the World," a gang of nomadic children engage in a rough and dangerous economy. They raid caravans for opium and trade it for food and fuel, while also scavenging abandoned Soviet landmines and using the explosives in lapis lazuli mines. When the Obama administration announces the end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, the leader of this wolfpack must decide whether the Americans' leaving is good or bad for his country. Belgian photographer Pieter-Jan De Pue spent seven years, off and on, shooting 16mm film to capture the harsh, beautiful landscapes and the grit and determination of kids grown up too quickly.