Why you should listen
Raised in Ghana, Switzerland and Germany, Jarreth Merz is a filmmaker and actor (you may remember him in the role of Simon of Cyrene in The Passion of the Christ). As a director, his work is rooted in observing life as it presents itself in all its complexities -- as shown in his latest documentary, An African Election, which follows the 2008 presidential elections in Ghana, West Africa.
Merz's stepfather, a political player on Ghana, helped him get access behind the scenes; then Jarreth and his cameraman brother Kevin followed the presidential candidates in the unpredictable months leading up to the final night. In chronicling the rough-and-tumble process of a democratic election, the documentary becomes a meditation on the dream of democracy itself. The film screened in the World Documentary competition at Sundance earlier this year. Merz is now working on a “political safari” in Africa.
He says: "An African Election challenges the preconceived notion we have about politics in Ghana or Africa without hiding the brutal realities."