In a place known as a sweet land of liberty, an allegory about democracy's elusiveness unfolds during Liberia's 2017 monumental and dramatic presidential election.
After decades of autocratic rulers, civil war, and experiments in state-building, the West African nation of Liberia—known as “Little America” by its neighbors—is undertaking a presidential election that will mark their first democratic transition of power in 73 years.
To the international community, the election is a testament to the will of Liberian’s and a test of the democratic institutions they've been rebuilding since the end of the civil war in 2003. For Liberians though, the election is seen as their only way to reclaim political autonomy and realize the liberty their country’s name has long promised.
With remarkable access, beautiful cinematography, and eloquent analysis from Liberian professor, Debey Sayndee and investigative journalist, Tetee Geebro, we deeply experience the reality of a nation at a turning point and reveal challenges facing democracies around the world.
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This poetic portrait of Liberia’s dramatic presidential election offers a gripping meditation on the meaning of liberty, elections, and democracy.
Andrew James Benson · Filmmaker
Andrew is a creative producer/director of content for impact. His creative direction has secured ADDYs and helped raise tens of millions for impact organizations; “Mitchell 20” a documentary about education that he wrote/produced/co-directed was distributed theatrically through AMC Independent and won a Rocky Mountain Emmy for Best Documentary; “The Joe Show” a nearly ten-year-long profile of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the decline of the fourth estate that Benson story produced was sold to Investigative Discovery and played festivals worldwide; and his original docudrama concept “Edge of War” was sold to Discovery Military (now American Heroes Channel) — the show’s host, General Wesley Clark said it “could reduce enthusiasm for war”, which was exactly its intent. His work spans commercial, marketing, episodic, and documentary. Clients include Waymo, Apple, BMW Foundation, Amgen Foundation, American Arts Incubator (State Dept), Accountability Lab, Patreon, Global Democracy Coalition, and Humanity United.
Andrew learned the craft of filmmaking while on the job. Working up the ranks from production assistant to production manager, then line producer and writer, to writer/producer/director—and everything in between. Early in his career, he worked alongside the executive producer and creator of The Amazing Race and with teams from UK-based factual production companies like the BBC, RAWtv, and Darlow Smithson during a renaissance of recreation productions that shaped the rise of the docudrama. These experiences inform his rich understanding of storytelling, creative collaboration, and strategies to maximize production value.
He heralds from Phoenix, AZ, where he developed as an artist and activist through the tutelage of great mentors and teachers. He's lived and worked in San Francisco, New York City, Ecuador, France, Liberia, and South Africa. He's based in Phoenix, AZ and serves as the Treasurer and Events Chair of the Arizona Production Association.
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Valentino Thomas · Co-Producer/Additional Camera/Asst. Editor
Valentino is a Liberian filmmaker and photographer who was educated in Kenya and Ghana. He works with local and international NGOs on storytelling for impact. Combining his love of sport and photography, you’ll often find him spending his weekends photographing pickup soccer games on the streets of Monrovia. Valentino assisted all phases of Liberian production including research, coordination, photography, and early story editing.
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Blair Glencorse · Executive Director, Accountability Lab
Clair MacDougall · Liberia-based journalist
David Evan Harris · UC Berkeley, Institute for the Future
Dan Swislow · Formerly National Democratic Institute
Randy Murray · Randy Murray Productions