The Island President

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Official film description...

A film about one man's mission to save his nation and perhaps the planet, “The Island President” is a riveting, uplifting story that is impossible to look away from.

President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives is confronting a problem greater than any other world leader has ever faced – the survival of his country and everyone in it. Nasheed, who brought democracy to the Maldives after decades of despotic rule, now faces an even greater challenge: as one of the most low-lying countries in the world, a rise of three feet in sea level would submerge the 1200 islands of the Maldives and make them uninhabitable. A classic David and Goliath tale, “The Island President” captures Nasheed's battle to stop global warming – and save his country.

Notes on the film...

Mohamed Nasheed stepped down as president of the Maldives on 7 February 2012. By his own account, he was under the threat of violence and was therefore forced to resign. (The opposition around the current president, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, denies these claims.) The country has been shaken by political unrest ever since.

“The Island President” is suitable for screenings at major events and campaigns and as a ‘sharing DVD’ to be passed on to family and friends. It can also be used for teaching at secondary school level or above. In this case, certain aspects need to be discussed and explained before and after the screening because the film presupposes a basic understanding of many technical terms is required.

Rating from our film jury...

An intelligent film that is easy to watch and very well made. It shows the direct consequences that climate change can have on the fundamental existence of a whole country and its population. The procedures before, during and after the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference are documented in an exemplary fashion. Well worth seeing!

Even though the causes of climate change are not explained explicitly, “The Island President” conveys the related problems and their urgency clearly. Since the Maldives are a popular holiday destination among Europeans, we are able to see a certain connection to our own lives. Possible solutions, particularly on the national level, are presented.

Even though the topic of the film is approached from a systemic perspective and the film presents the human impact on planet earth very effectively, it wouldn’t have hurt to include some well-founded knowledge and facts. The scientific value is rather low, as current knowledge is barely relativised or questioned.

The film has a strong emotional impact. It arouses empathy and responsibility, and the global perspective conveys a sense of collective awareness.

From the cinematographic point of view, “The Island President” is a professional and successful production – in this respect, it is perfect!

Further reviews...

“Climate-change documentaries are almost always disturbing, but 'The Island President' communicates a special urgency.” – John Hartl, Seattle Times

“'The Island President' is an important portrait of a determined man standing fast in a place where the ground is literally shifting beneath his feet.” – Peter Howell, Toronto Star

“Nasheed is indeed inspirational, a cool-headed but passionate and courageous guy. You end up wishing a lot more leaders were like this guy.” – Tom Long, Detroit News

“Shenk expertly weaves Nasheed's extraordinary personal story together with the Maldives' breathtaking natural beauty and a Capra-esque tale of dogged idealism and political courage to create wonderfully vivid cinematic portraiture.” – Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

“What makes Nasheed's whirligig tactics so urgent is that, unlike most other countries participating in the summit, his own nation is actually in danger of being annihilated by climate change.” – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

“'The Island President' personalizes the threat of global warming, and nationalizes it too, by focusing on Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

“A portrait of defiant optimism as a last-chance means of survival, Jon Shenk's 'The Island President' offers not only a Mandela-like tale of political heroism but a much-needed perspective on climate change.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

“The hope that infuses this movie makes it all the more upsetting to walk out of the theater and contemplate a looming disaster that the world's leaders seem unable to prevent.” – A.O.Scott, New York Times

“It's fascinating to be so close to a then-sitting head of state as he negotiates for his homeland's survival, and the news that Nasheed was recently deposed in a coup by Gayoom loyalists makes the hard-won victories he did secure all the more poignant.” – Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

Technical information and screening rights...

Director: Jon Shenk
Screenplay: Pedro Kos
Production: Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen
Actors: Mohamed Nasheed
Country: USA
Year: 2012
Run Time: 101 minutes
Language (Audio): English
Language (Subtitles): German
World rights: Menemshafilms

More information...


Climate Courage NaturalDisasters Politics


entertainment value

scientificity+ journalistic quality

Transfer of a momentum

Picture, music, craftsmanship

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