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When the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996, Mullah Omar sent his men to shutter the cinemas and torch the films in the national archive. It was a destruction of heritage that would be repeated again and again in the zealots’ reign. The 2001 razing of the great Buddha carvings in the Bamiyan Valley is the vandalism perhaps best known to Westerners, so it’s fitting that the National Gallery of Art’s “Afghanistan on Film” series begins with a meditation on the Buddhas by Swiss documentarian Christian Frei (The Giant Buddhas; at noon, Friday, July 4). Hollywood’s adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner follows, but it’s the videos created by artists from the Center for Contemporary Art Afghanistan (“New Video Art From Afghanistan”), filmmaker Siddiq Barmak’s Osama, and the works of Iranian Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Kandahar) and his family that best represent the new era of Afghanistan on film. Like the CCAA, Makhmalbaf’s Afghan Children Education Movement nurtures art and culture made by Afghans, schooling kids in filmmaking and acting. Barmak is the organization’s current director, and he carries on the mission of the men who managed to slip into the film archives under threat of death to hide negatives from the Taliban. The rehabilitation of his nation’s soul, he has said, will only come with “a very strong effort to create a new beginning for Afghan cinema.” Two such efforts, Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame and Earth and Ashes conclude the series. The series runs to Saturday, Sept. 6, at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th St. & Constitution Ave. NW. Free. (202) 737-4215; see nga.gov/programs/film for a complete schedule.