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Kickstarter Pick of the Month: An African Election Tour

July 25, 2012  |  4:00pm
Kickstarter Pick of the Month: An African Election Tour

Each month, your friends at Paste scour Kickstarter to find projects worthy of your support and love. This month we couldn’t restrict ourselves to just one, and we’re jumping in a few days early to meet some project deadlines. Support independent art today by becoming a backer, and spread the word, why dontcha?

Director Jarreth Merz shook up Sundance last year with Paste favorite _An African Election, a documentary that felt like a spy thriller. He went on to win numerous awards for the film, and to garner an Indie Spirit nomination for best doc.

As Merz discussed with us in his mPlayer feature, one of the most important aspects of the film was the way it demonstrated to ordinary Africans that democracy could work in Africa, and that the cycle of corruption and violence surrounding elections could be overcome. Many Africans have approached Merz and told him that seeing the film made them proud to be African for the first time.

Now he’s raising money to take the film across Africa and spread that feeling even more. I could go on about all the cool rewards ont he campaign page, but really, how can any of it compare to making people feel proud about their identity? Go. Now. Give.

Also notable for this month, the following projects are listed in alphabetical order:

1. The Boxcar Grocer
Many have decried the rise of urban “food deserts,” where the only food available to many poor communities is low-quality and unhealthy. A brother and sister in Atlanta decided it was better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. The result of their work, The Boxcar Grocer, is a new vision of what an urban corner store can — and should — be.
Coolest reward_: At $1500, a whole pack of goodies plus a private reception with the owners and chef.

2. The Grassroots Project
One of our favorite Sundance discoveries three years ago was a crazy little anarchic, philosophical comedy called The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, starring great folks like Marshall Allman, Tania Raymonde, and Natasha Lyonne. Now producer Peggy Case is back with a new film called Grassroots, starring Jason Biggs (American Pie) and Joel David Moore (Avatar). It’s the story of an Everyman’s quixotic campaign for Seattle City Council. The film is made, but Biggs is raising money for a “How to Get Elected Grassroots Style” video. Biggs is an underrated comic actor, and it’ll be fun to see what he comes up with.
Coolest reward: At $2000, an hourlong acting lesson with director Steven Gyllenhall (Paris Trout).

3. I Am Big Bird
Inspired by how great Being Elmo was? How about following it up with a doc about Carroll Spinney, the man who’s played both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since 1969? A no-brainer.
Coolest reward: At $250, a whole pack of goodies plus a one hour group video chat with Caroll Spinney himself.

4. The New Orleans Community Printshop
The democratization of the means of production has revolutionized music and film, but other art forms still struggle to find ways for beginning or underprivileged artists to produce work. Enter the New Orleans Community Printshop, an all-volunteer organization, has served hundreds of Crescent City artists over the last three years. Now they have an opportunity to move into a bigger and better space, and do even more good. Well worth your money.
Coolest reward: At $33, your face will adorn 50 pizza boxes used by local restaurant Pizza Delicious. You’ll be famous! And greasy.

5. The Peer Gynt Project Goes to Norway
This one’s actually an IndieGoGo project, but it’s such a good cause, we couldn’t resist. Caroline von Kuhn, writer/director of this year’s Caitlin Fitzgerald film _Like the Water, has reimagined the world of Ibsen’s great protagonist Peer Gynt through the eyes of wheelchair-using UK actor Neil Hancock. It’s a daring re-imagining that is much more than just a play, and it’s hard to imagine a production that more deserves to play the Ibsen Festival in Oslo. But for that to happen, we need to pny up.
Coolest reward:_ At $1000, you’ll be a guest on the lead actor’s radio show.

6. Pleased to Meet Me
You know how you always hear an audio feature on NPR’s This American Life and think, “Someone should make a movie about that?” Someone did. Director/Co-Writer Archie Borders dramatizes a TAL story about a group of musicians, strangers gathering for one magical day of recording one song. Best of all, Borders has cast real musicians in the parts of musicians — heavyweights like Aimee Mann, John Doe, Loudon Wainwright, and dear old Paste friend Karin Bergquist.
Coolest reward: At $1000, a full day recording session with your band in the same studio used in the film.

7. Three Days at Foster
You don’t have to be a college football fan to enjoy this movie. You don’t even have to be a civil rights activist. You just have to enjoy seeing a great story well told. But if you do have any idea of just how sacred the residents of Alabama hold their college football, and of just how bad racial relations still were in Alabama in 1970, you’ll know this is a documentary not to be missed.
Coolest reward: At $250, a whole pack of goodies, notably signed copies of all three of director Keith Dunnavant’s books (including his heralded Bart Starr bio America’s Quarterback).

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