The Island President: New film profiles Mohamed Nasheed at the Frontline of Climate Justice

When it comes to climate change, we're all Maldivians!
President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives is an articulate, passionate climate witness on behalf of his endangered island nation of 350,000 people. The technocratic and amiable President is one of the youngest heads of state in the world today. The one-time freelance journalist (who worked with and for various media when he was in political exile) remains very accessible to the international media. He knows the power of old and new media — and how to leverage it for his cause.

I admit to being a Nasheed fan. During the past couple of years, I have blogged about, interviewed and made a short film about President Nasheed. In the less than three years he has been in office, he has faced more than his fair share of economic and political challenges at home, but he has never lost sight of the long-term, bigger issue of climate change advocacy.

And now, his global status as the ‘rock star of climate change’ is enhanced by ‘The Island President’, a 90-minute, feature-style major documentary about him produced by a leading American production company, Actual Films. The film is to be released this summer at various film festivals. I can’t wait to catch it.

The Island President has been in the making for nearly two years. The film makers had exclusive access to the President both in his island nation and on his international travels.

The Island President: Official Trailer

The official Synopsis reads: “The Island President is a a dramatic feature documentary that lifts the issue of global warming out of the theoretical and into the personal. President Mohamed Nasheed is trying to save 385,000 people from drowning. His nation of 1,200 low-lying islands, the Maldives, is sinking into the Indian Ocean as sea levels rise due to global warming.

“With a young, charismatic South Asian leader updating a role once played by Jimmy Stewart, The Island President is like a non-fiction Mr. Smith Goes to Washington elevated to the world stage. Actual Films has secured exclusive access to follow President Nasheed as he prepares over the coming months for the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit in December. The terms of the 1997 Kyoto Treaty on Climate Change are about to expire, and leaders from around the world will converge on Copenhagen to hammer out a new treaty with renewed urgency. As the Danish Minister for Climate and Energy acknowledged, “the December days in Copenhagen in 2009 will be…a political thriller on an international scale.” The Summit will be an international showdown where President Nasheed will try to convince world leaders to finally take serious action against looming danger of climate change. The stakes couldn’t be higher-President Nasheed sees this as the last chance to save his homeland, and the world.”

The Island President is a co-production involving Actual Films, AFTERIMAGE PUBLIC MEDIA and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Read about the film makers: Jon Shenk, Director; Bonni Cohen, Producer; and Richard Berge, Producer.

October 2009: President Mohamed Nasheed: Encounter with a genial climate crusader…

President Nasheed knows what to say and how to say it to the eager media...

Author: Nalaka Gunawardene

A science writer by training, I've worked as a journalist and communication specialist across Asia for 30+ years. During this time, I have variously been a news reporter, feature writer, radio presenter, TV quizmaster, documentary film producer, foreign correspondent and journalist trainer. I continue to juggle some of these roles, while also blogging and tweeting and column writing.

3 thoughts on “The Island President: New film profiles Mohamed Nasheed at the Frontline of Climate Justice”

  1. let’s make floating islands attached by elastic steel strings to ocean bed.strings prevent the drifting and thanks to elasticity the islands would also rise as water level rises.

  2. u are thinking wrong about mohamed nasheed, he is a crual man i have ever seen
    he promiss a hall citizen of maldies to give them a better education, helth, and welth but as
    soon as he became a president he forget the promiss he made , he is trying to become a famous
    in front of the world , he spend a lot of money for that in the budget of the maldivian goverment
    the people in the country is thirst for better helth service , ducation but tha president nasheed cabinet is saying
    there is no budget for that , wat i am goin to say is , dont judge him by looking his face and wat he saying
    just look behind his presidencey wat is goin on , we made him a president just same as that u made him a hero
    but the decision we made was not wright that we are tasting now, ……

  3. @ibrahim,

    Thanks for comment. You are entitled to your opinion of President Nasheed as I am to mine. Assuming you are a Maldivian who lives in the Maldives itself, you are best positioned to judge the performance of President Nasheed and his government. He was elected President in the first true multi-party elections in the history of the Maldives and a majority of Maldivians voted him into office in an election that was conducted while his opponent was in office. It will soon be three years since his Nov 2008 election victory and you can now compare his campaign promises and delivery. I am not competent to assess his domestic political performance. Perhaps you are.

    But the fact remains that, in the international arena, President Nasheed has consistently highlighted the climate vulnerability of small island states. In doing so, he has taken the climate advocacy of President Gayoom to the next logical stages. While we are still far from a globally equitable climate deal that addresses emissions reductions and adaptation needs with sufficient resources, advocacy by the Maldives and other frontline states help mainstream the issue.

    Sure, this futuristic survival needs to be balanced with meeting the current survival needs of the people. That’s the challenge that every democratically elected government faces. In autocracies – which the Maldives was for 30 years until 2008 – citizens couldn’t dissent and if they did, the government could ignore them – or worse.

    I hope President Nahseed will heed the domestic disillusionment and balance his global advocacy with local action. But that’s between him and his people. As an outsider, I can only watch with interest…and some concern.

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