SOMA Spotlight: Award-Winning Director/Producer, Cara Mertes

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Village Green presents a series called Spotlight, which gives you a chance to get to know your neighbors better. We ask questions. Our Spotlight personality does the rest.

We continue Spotlight with a profile of award-winning director/producer Cara Mertes. She has multiple Emmy Awards, Peabody Awards, and duPont Awards as well as Oscar nominations for her films. Her career spans public television, non-profit arts and philanthropy, and centers at the intersection of film and social justice.

Emmy Award Winning Director, Cara Mertes


Cara Mertes

How long have you been part of the SOMA community?

Since 2013

SOMA or MapSO?


What do you do?

I direct a new international initiative at the Ford Foundation that focuses on moving image storytelling and social justice.

Why do you live/work here?

My family and I lived in Manhattan for many years before moving to Santa Monica for a position at Sundance Institute. We returned to the East Coast for my current position, and in our search in the tri-state area had never come to the area but found SOMA to be a really wonderful and welcoming community. Weirdly enough, there were several families that came from Santa Monica to Maplewood that year.

Which book have you been meaning to read?

The piles are high! I am reading a few bit by bit — These Truths by Jill LePore; A Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón; The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkerson and Kate Pickett; Annals of the Former World by John McPhee.

If SOMA was a car/type of music/flavor of ice cream, what kind of car/music/ice cream would it be?


How do you contribute to your community?

We support a number of non-profits focused on education, food insecurity, local history, environment, education — our children go to the public school — and the library!

What’s your favorite dessert in SOMA?

Hmm, I am more a savory person so I will go with scones from the Able Baker and pizza from Arturo’s.

What’s your favorite place to shop in SOMA?

Words Bookstore. It’s hard to see it closed like so many other great stores.

What’s your favorite thing about living here?

Everything is walkable.

Which SOMA store has the best outside space/curbside service?

So many do! I am amazed by the resilience of our town during these months.

What’s your favorite place to go on Saturday morning?

South Mountain Reservation.

What is your favorite place to find a parking space in Maplewood and South Orange Village?

That’s a secret!

What superpower would you like to have? And would you use it to get a parking spot?

Granting other people’s wishes. Hopefully they would wish a parking space for me sometimes.

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