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General News of Friday, 30 December 2011

Source: citifmonline

I got a ‘permit’ to film Ghana EC’s strong room – Film-maker

The heavily criticised director of ‘An African Election’ – a movie on the 2008 elections of Ghana - Jarreth Merz, has revealed that his political neutrality and background did the trick to give him access to the Strong Room of the Electoral Commission of Ghana.

The director of the award-winning movie said he sought permission from the Electoral Commission and mainly the political parties’ representatives in the Strong Room after a gentleman’s agreement was reached that he will not make the video clips public until the elections were over.

He stated that one of the major reasons why he was allowed to film all the actions in the Strong Room uncensored was due to the fact that he was seen to be a “neutral” person.

But when excerpts of the documentary feature film was shown on Metro TV some few weeks ago, officials of the EC expressed utter shock and wondered how cameras were allowed into the media no-go-area.

Merz, who invaded the studios of an Accra-based television station Metro TV on Thursday night during its bi-weekly programme, Good Evening Ghana, stopped the airing of an extended trailer of his movie that has angered a section of Ghanaians for showing scenes that sort to put Ghana in a bad light.

“This film is about the image of Ghana serving the growth of democracy in Africa.

I wanted this film to be an inspiration; I didn’t want it to be an insult to the Ghanaian people,” the actor who portrayed Simon of Cyrene in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ said. “I want it to be an inspiration for African people. So far it has been so; let’s not go into that direction where we are saying the film is doing damage. ”

The Swiss-born actor added: “The damage that it is doing is based on people who think their personal agenda is not fulfilled. I have no gains out of this film, but troubles… we even showed that Ghana has film cameras and studios and that people do not live in a bush. ”

The director, who described the host of the show, Paul Adom-Otchere as “arrogant, rude and insolent” based on his line of questioning said he has strong ties with ex-Presidents J. A Kufuor and J. J Rawlings hence his access to the private residence of the latter to capture his wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, dancing to President John Evans Atta Mills’ appreciation to them at a rally for their support during the campaign.

He said the TV station had no permission or right to broadcast his movie that gave a visual account of events that ensued in the “fortified” EC strong room including a heated exchange between current deputy Health Minister Rojo Mettle-Nunoo and Kwabena Agyepong, a former spokesperson of ex-President Kufuor over alleged falsification of electoral results from the Bantama Constituency in the Ashanti region and some parts of the Volta region.

Merz, who grew up in Ghana, Germany and Switzerland and speaks five languages fluently, said the television stations in Ghana should stop whining because they could have easily had access to the Strong Room of the EC if they had approached the commission with such request.

However, Metro TV’s Samuel Agyemang, a former Ghana Journalist of the Year, in a text message to the programme debunked such assertion saying he also sought permission from the EC but was categorically denied access.

Merz hoped Ghana will go through a very successful election come 2012 to serve as a beacon of hope once again for Africa.

“I wish for Ghana success in the 2012 elections. I really wish that politicians and the media will continue their good work because Ghana cannot afford to fail Africa when it comes to the 2012 elections.

“There is a responsibility that comes with the birth right of being a Ghanaian and that is to be a leader within Africa,” he said.

The premiers in Ghana from March 2012 after which it will be going round the regions to show for free. The Los Angeles Times described the documentary feature film as “the gripping examination of Ghana's 2008 presidential contest on display. ”