Afghanistan is not a place most Westerners have visited or know well, if at all, outside the context of war. As the setting for this documentary, filmed from 2011 to 2014 at a school in the capital, Kabul, it is beautiful despite its ravages, somehow still glimmering with hope. American filmmaker James Longley (Iraq in Fragments) again turns his camera on ordinary people who are just trying to get by—and on top of that, building a better future for their children. The film centers on a trio of brothers who attend the school and expands outward to include their fellow students, parents, teachers, and other adults in their orbit. The older interviewees recall the country’s recent past, illustrated through 35-mm archival footage, and share their fears that leak into the present. These sequences are more evocative than informative, and the lack of focus on the city’s schoolgirls is sorely felt. At the same time, Longley’s commitment to the light that shines through the rubble and to the many individuals who are lifting the rocks is more than admirable. It is necessary work that reaffirms the intrinsic value of every human life, no matter how distant. In Dari, Pashto, and Arabic with subtitles.