An African Election

"Excellent"

An African Election Review


This skilful narrative documentary vividly captures the urgency of Ghana's precarious 2008 presidential elections. The people are terrific movie characters, and the sense of a nation moving forward is remarkably gripping.

Barely 16 years after adopting its constitution, Ghana has had a history of violent coups, as the man with the most guns ruled the country. And even under democracy, there have been charges of fraud and corruption. But observers and security personnel are working to make sure that this election goes smoothly, proving that the nation is moving forward. Still, both leading parties declare themselves winner in a tight race that triggers a contentious, volatile run-off , after which one remote region ends up casting the deciding votes.

The film is beautifully shot and edited, with a gorgeous score that makes it feel almost like a thriller. The filmmakers have close access to each candidate, and they essentially narrate the film along with electoral experts, journalists and activists. Enormous crowd scenes are shot with a fluid intimacy that takes the breath away, while the detail in observational clips let us feel the lively rhythms of daily Ghanaian life. It's especially amazing to watch officials count the ballots in the middle of exuberant street parties.

This is a fascinating exploration of how a nation shifts from military to civilian power, as personified by former military strongman Rawlings who established the 1992 constitution. The film also explores Ghana's history as the first black country to gain independence in 1957 and its struggle to build a new nation on the foundations of colonialism. Western interests have continued to be a problem, including a 1966 CIA-orchestrated coup. The question now is whether oil and gold are helping the nation prosper or just a few fat cats.

Like everywhere on earth, the people don't trust politicians who make promises but fail to meet the need for food, health care and education. So the transparency of the entire election process is hugely inspirational: figures this raw simply don't lie. Sure, the culture of machismo is still a huge problem, causing bursts of violence. But even with some outrageous twists and turns, the fact that Ghana peacefully transferred power between opposing parties means that its democracy is on the right road.



An African Election

Facts and Figures

Run time: 89 mins

In Theaters: Friday 25th November 2011

Distributed by: New Video Group

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 10

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jarreth Merz

Producer: Jarreth Merz

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