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Directed by Jon Shenk
Documentary
 

USA

Released: 2011

English

101 minutes

The Island President tells the story of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, a man confronting a problem greater than any other world leader has ever faced--the literal survival of his country and everyone in it. As the lowest lying country in the world, if the sea level rises a few feet, the picturesque islands of the Maldives will be submerged and uninhabitable, like a modern-day Atlantis. It could happen as soon as 2050.

After leading a twenty-year pro-democracy movement against the brutal dictator who ruled the Maldives for 30 years, during which he was arrested twelve times, spent a year and a half in solitary confinement, and was tortured twice, Nasheed eluded his more likely fate of being murdered by the regime, and in 2008, became President at age 41 in a free and open election.

 

What makes the The Island President unique is the extreme freedom President Nasheed gave director Jon Shenk (Lost Boys of Sudan) and his crew, getting them access to cabinet meetings, to his home, and even to meetings with the leaders of other countries. Throughout, Nasheed speaks his mind with a directness that is almost unheard of for a contemporary politician. Shrewd, pragmatic, with a knack for creating publicity events to capture the world's attention--he had his cabinet ministers learn scuba so they could have an "underwater cabinet meeting"--it's not hard to see why this dynamic young leader from a tiny country is increasingly becoming known as one of the world's most persuasive voices for action on climate change.

 

The Island President combines stunning cinematography with the haunting music of Radiohead for an unforgettable journey. In most of the world, Nasheed still remains unknown. But this film promises to play a role in changing that as more people are exposed to his charm and eloquence. Having gone from prison to presidency, he has a powerful will for overcoming hopeless situations. The Maldives, as Nasheed says, are “a cross between paradise and paradise” and he makes us feel deeply invested in their survival. After this encounter, you may come away wishing he was your president.

 

The Island President

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Awards

 

Winner - Pare Lorentz Award
International Documentary Association Awards 2012

 

Winner - People's Choice Documentary Award
Toronto International Film Festival 2011

 

Official Selection
Telluride Film Festival 2011

 

Official Selection
Toronto International Film Festival 2011