February 22, 2012, 7:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


Outside the Box [Office], the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics and Urban Republic invite you and a guest to a special  screening of

An African Election

Produced & Directed by Jarreth Merz
Co-Directed by Kevin Merz
Followed by a Q&A with Jarreth Merz

7:00 P.M. on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

The Ray Stark Family Theatre

George Lucas Building, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Official Selection: World Documentary Cinema Competition, 2011 Sundance Film Festival

"In the uncertain aftermath of the 'Arab spring,' there is no more heartening message."
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times,0,6040918.story

"...Fleet-footed, engagingly volatile documentary"
Jeanette Catsoulis, The New York Times

Nominated for the 2012 Spirit Awards – Best Documentary
Spirit Awards

About An African Election

The 2008 presidential elections in Ghana, West Africa, serve as a backdrop for this feature documentary that looks behind-the-scenes at the complex, political machinery of a third world democracy struggling to legitimize itself to its first world contemporaries. At stake in this race are the fates of two political parties that will do almost anything to win. Director Jarreth Merz follows the key players for almost three months to provide an unprecedented insider’s view of the political, economic and social forces at work in Ghana. He builds suspense by taking the viewer down the back roads of the nation to capture each unexpected twist and turn in a contest that is always exciting and never predictable. Throughout the film, Merz depicts the pride and humanity of the larger-than-life politicians, party operatives and citizens who battle for the soul of their country.

Provided courtesy of Urban Republic. Not Rated. Running time: 89 minutes. In English, Twi and other local languages, with English subtitles.

To learn more about the film, visit


About the Guest

JARRETH MERZ (Director, Producer)

Raised in Ghana, Switzerland and Germany, TEDGlobal Speaker Jarreth Merz is a filmmaker and actor (you may remember him from The Passion of the Christ, ER and Law & Order). As a documentary 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. Jarreth and his crew 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 Cinema Documentary Competition at Sundance last year. Merz is now working on a unique outreach project called A POLITICAL SAFARI. His African mobile cinema campaign and accompanying workshops are designed to engage and support Africans in democracy-building.

Director's Statement

An African Election started as my journey back to the Africa of my childhood. In 2008, 28 years had passed since I had last set foot in Ghana — a country on the West Coast of the African continent. I had spent seven years of my boyhood, moving between two cities: Accra, the country’s modern, coastal capital, and Kumasi, the capital of the ancient Ashanti kingdom.

With my fortieth birthday quickly approaching, my history had suddenly become important to me. The landscapes of childhood leave indelible marks on us all and I wanted to go back to the place where my emotional memory began. So I made my way to Africa to look for the traces of my childhood that would enable me to find out more about who I was by discovering who I had been.

I chose the year 2008 for my return, as the result of an inner calling. The fact that my trip occurred at the same time that presidential elections were being held in Ghana and that the United States was about to vote its first Black president into power, was coincidental. Yet, these elections, in both the U.S. and in the relatively small country Ghana, would become a reflection to a man bracing for his forties. They would open my eyes to the reality of modern day politics in a fast-paced and globalized world; a world in which people were living between high-tech and the middle ages; a world in which money ruled and where hunger and fear still threatened to undermine cultural values and the integrity of man.

Still, Ghana seemed different. Despite poverty and hardship, the country had held on to the cultural and spiritual inheritance that had made Ghanaians a proud people. Did I have a cultural and spiritual identity? That was what I was here to find out.

-- Jarreth Merz

About the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics

The mission of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics is to motivate students to become active in the world of politics and encourage public officials to participate in the daily life of USC.  

The Institute operates a number of activities in four broad program areas: Unruh Adjunct Lecturers; Student Internships, Scholarships and Awards; Lectures, Conferences and Political Practitioners; Unruh Undergraduate Scholars.

To learn more, visit:

About Outside the Box [Office]

Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain. The weekly screenings will be on Wednesday and Sunday nights (and other select dates, as they arise) in the School of Cinematic Arts Complex, George Lucas Building.

To view the calendar of screenings, click here.

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $8.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in outdoor Lot M or V, or Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Please note that Parking Structure D cannot accommodate tall vehicles such as SUVs. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago