Jarreth Merz' new film, "An African Election," follows the 2008 presidential elections in Ghana from start to finish.
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."
"A remarkable documentary that grants viewers unprecedented access to the anatomy of Ghana’s presidential elections."IndieWire
“Ghana found itself in the same place in which the U.S. election stalled in the 2000 presidential elections. But instead of the unwillingness of the candidates to allow the system to proceed and the people to decide, Ghana honored democracy and its people.”
“I was playing the violent African, the African terrorist. And I was thinking, how many terrorists could I possibly play before turning into one myself?”
“The echo of the gunshots lingered; it was soon drowned by the chanting of the mob, and I didn’t believe what I was hearing. They were chanting, ‘We want peace. We want peace.’”
“When I’d left [Ghana], free and fair elections in a democratic environment were a dream. And now that I’d returned, that dream had become reality, though a fragile reality.”