2011 Sundance Docs in Focus: AN AFRICAN ELECTION

Next up in the World Cinema Documentary Competition is the first of three films that also screened recently at IDFA: Director Jarreth Merz and Co-Director Kevin Merz’s in-depth look at the Ghanaian political process, AN AFRICAN ELECTION, a Swiss/US co-production.

Sundance Program Description:

In a world plagued by stolen elections, secret government agendas, and a renewed interest in the exploitation of African natural resources, what value does democracy offer, particularly in the tumultuous region of West Africa? For Ghana, a nation that has been Africa’s barometer of political stability, democracy may mean the difference between peace and prosperity—and murderous chaos under military coup.

AN AFRICAN ELECTION is a remarkable documentary that grants viewers unprecedented access to the anatomy of Ghana’s 2008 presidential elections. Capturing the intrigue of electioneering, the intensity of the vote-counting process, and the mood of the countrymen whose fate lies precariously in the balance, director Jarreth Merz’s coverage unfolds with all the tension of a political thriller, revealing the emotions, passions, and ethical decisions that both threaten—and maintain—the integrity of the democratic process. AN AFRICAN ELECTION illuminates a beacon of hope for Africa and for the value and vitality of democracy today.

Some Background:
Swiss-born Director Jarreth Merz may be best known as a film and television actor, having appeared in THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST and ER in addition to his work behind the camera. His brother, Co-Director Kevin Merz, has picked up awards on the festival circuit for his previous feature doc, GLORIOUS EXIT, about Jarreth’s return to Nigeria to bury his father.

Why You Should Watch:
It’s hard to imagine US filmmakers gaining the kind of unfettered access to the American presidential election process that the Metzes do in Ghana, leading to a deep sense of involvement for the viewer. This is heightened further when circumstances turn the election results into a real nailbiter situation. Together with fellow World Cinema Documentary Competition title THE GREEN WAVE, these two films serve as eye-opening views into the importance and role of democracy in other parts of the world.

Screening Info:
For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph above. The film also has a website to keep interested persons updated on future screening plans.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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