The Land of the Enlightened

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A gang of Afghan kids from the Kuchi tribe dig out old Soviet mines and sell the explosives to children working in a lapis lazuli mine. When not dreaming of the time when American troops finally withdraw from their land, another gang of children keeps tight control on the caravans smuggling the blue gemstones through the arid mountains of Pamir.




87 min


Pieter-Jan De Pue


In this seamless blend of fictional and documentary form, we experience a stunning cinematic journey into the beauty of war-tormented Afghanistan. Shot over seven years on evocative 16mm footage, first-time director Pieter-Jan De Pue paints a whimsical yet haunting look at the condition of Afghanistan left for the next generation. As American soldiers prepare to leave, we follow De Pue deep into this hidden land where young boys form wild gangs to control trade routes, sell explosives from mines left over from war, and climb rusting tanks as playgrounds—making the new rules of war based on the harsh landscape left to them.

Pieter-Jan De Pue, David Dusa

Director and Director of Photography
Pieter-Jan De Pue

David Dusa, Stijn Deconinck

Denis Clohessy

Robert Flanagan

Executive Producer
Bart Van Langendonck

Christian Beetz, Morgan Bushe, Femke Wolting, Bruno Felix

Line Producers
Kathrin Isberner, Xavier Rombaut, Tatjana Kozar

Creative Producer gebrueder beetz filmproduktion
Kerstin Meyer-Beetz

Junior Producer gebrueder beetz filmproduktion
Lea-Marie Körner

Editorial assistent
Caroline Schaper

Production Assistants
Anique Roelfsema, Tatjana Kozar

Gholam Nasir
Khyrgyz Baj
Noor & Zulfu
Koko Ewas
Koko Mullalih
Marina Golbahari
Sergei Kovinchenko
Devin A. Cleeves, U.S. Soldier

Children of Argo, Badhakshan
Children of Ladjewarsho, Badhakshan
Children of Pamir, Badhakshan
Villagers of Sarhad de Broughil, Pamir, Badhakshan
Children of Nichigam, Kunar
Children of Qala e Fatuh, Kabul
Children of Sudgul, Nuristan
Children of Zurabad, Bagram

A feature documentary by Pieter-Jan De Pue
A production by Savage Film Production
In co-production with gebrueder beetz filmproduktion (Germany), Fastnet Films (Ireland), Submarine (Netherlands), ZDF, Canvas, IKON

In association with
arte, Eyeworks, Telenet/ Prime, Sciapode

MEDIA Development, Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds (VAF), The Netherlands Film Fund (NFF), Le Centre du Cinéma et de l’Audiovisuel de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles et de Voo, Belgian Development Cooperation – DGD, Bord Scannán ne hÉireann – The Irish Film Board, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Belgian tax shelter for Film Financing

The Land of the Enlightened
  • It’s the figuration of persistence, hope and moral compromise that’s features here, of the natural resources of land, poppies and youth. The Land of the Enlightened is rich in drama and masterfully edited imagery.
    Saltlake Magazine
    26 Jan 2016
  • The Land of the Enlightened' is all at once a tremendously ambitious narrative experiment that features Afghanistan's struggling youth, a breathtaking tour of the nation's oft-invaded landscapes, and a pointed portrayal of America's military presence.
    24 Jan 2016
  • With stunning 16mm cinematography, an empathetic eye, and a great deal of courage, De Pue digs into this lawless desert world, forging in the end a futureless portrait in which morals are discarded in the name of survival.
    25 Jan 2016
  • De Pue’s logistical triumph in caves and on caravans aims for visual magic, and captures plenty of it.
    Screen Daily
    25 Jan 2016

In co-production with

In association with

Funded by