1. The Buddhas of Mes Aynak.

    Documentarian Brent Huffman is racing against the clock.

    Last year, Huffman began work on the story of Mes Aynak, an ancient Buddhist city located in the desert of eastern Afghanistan. An archaeological wonder, the 2,600-year-old site is home to an enormous monastery complex, many temples, and hundreds of statues, representing a major cultural legacy for the war-torn country. But by the end of the year, the entire city may be destroyed.

    The site currently belongs to a Chinese mining conglomerate, which expects to extract up to $100 billion of copper from beneath the city, leveling it in the process. A major financial windfall for the beleagured Afghan government, the proposal is nevertheless hotly contested by displaced locals, concerned environmentalists, and a small team of archaeologists working overtime to preserve Mes Aynak.

    Huffman just launched a Kickstarter project to fund his documentary, which will bring the story of the site to a wider audience. He hopes to mobilize international pressure to save the ancient city, while broadening the discussion around foreign investment in Afghanistan as a decade of war winds down and money begins to flow.