GLORIOUS EXIT

Nigeria, USA 2008 | 75 Min. | DigiBeta, OmeU
Q&A with:
Kevin Merz

The news of his Niger­ian father’s death catch­es Jar­reth Merz off guard. Now living and work­ing as a the­ater actor in Los Ange­les, his par­ents had orig­i­nal­ly met in Nige­ria. But soon after­wards, Jarreth’s German mother left his father and returned home, and Jar­reth grew up with his younger half-broth­er, Kevin, in Switzer­land. Jar­reth saw his father only three times prior to his death. Yet accord­ing to Niger­ian tra­di­tion, as the eldest son of the Niger­ian chief­tain, Jar­reth must arrange his funer­al. And so, accom­pa­nied by his hand­held-camera-toting half-broth­er, Jar­reth heads to Nige­ria to ful­fill this weighty respon­si­bil­i­ty. Once under the tute­lage of his long-lost Niger­ian family, Jar­reth not only learns how to prop­er­ly hold a chieftain’s staff, he receives a crash course in what it takes to sat­is­fy all inter­est­ed par­ties – earth­ly and spir­i­tu­al – in order to pro­vide the deceased and the bereaved a dig­ni­fied farewell. But what is one to do when the clan of the mother shows up demand­ing gifts in the middle of the cer­e­mo­ny? Or when all clan of the mother shows up demand­ing gifts in the middle of the cer­e­mo­ny? Or when all of the rites and cus­toms asso­ci­at­ed with a proper burial threat­en to bank­rupt the family? Jar­reth is forced to per­form a bal­anc­ing act between show­ing respect for tra­di­tion­al cus­toms and defend­ing him­self against seem­ing­ly arbi­trary demands.