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The Island President

The Island President

Released 30 March 2012
Director Jon Shenk
Starring Mohamed Nasheed
Producer(s) Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen
Origin United States
Running Time 101 minutes
Genre Documentary
Rating TBC

The global example.

It is difficult to summarise the impact of the excellent documentary, The Island President. In one sense, it offers a renewed hope for the future both in terms of the fight against global warming and also the introduction of democracy into nations suffering from the ill-guidance of dictatorships. On the other hand, it is a rather depressing tale of a losing battle between right and wrong, benevolence and greed, salvation and endangerment.

The film follows President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives in his first year of office, a political hero that for twenty years fought against the despotic rule of multi-term President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Often imprisoned and tortured for his activism, Nasheed eventually became the leader of his people in 2008 in a groundbreaking victory for his new Democratic Party and immediately set about lobbying for climate change reforms to safeguard the low-lying 2000 islands that make up the Maldives.

It is forecast that by the end of this century there is a distinct possibility that the entire Maldive Islands, which have an average ground level of just 1.5m above sea level, will be completely submerged under water – leaving hundreds of thousands of people among the first environmental refugees.

Nasheed's struggle with all the major powers in world politics to make them realise the error of their ways and the responsibility they hold to the very existence of his civilisation and potentially others in the future is relentless. A young, energetic and perhaps overly optimistic man with an extremely intelligent mind, Nasheed has gained the respect of many influential people around the world but there is only so much clout a small fish can muster in such a vast sea of wealth, power and bureaucracy.

The sad realisation that he doesn't only have to fight with the entire world but his own people too culminated in his resignation from the Presidency in February of this year while being held at gunpoint following a coup d'etat. Nasheed's task has now become even more arduous and the war to safeguard the Maldives – almost ironically a paradise for the rich and famous – appears increasingly unlikely. This documentary is a must-see.

- David Caulfield