In The Island President, Mohamed Nasheed, the recently ousted president of the Maldives brings attention to the serious impact of climate change on this archipelago -- which could be soon under water. The smallest country in Asia composed of 1192 islands, the Maldives also faces political uncertainty.
Nasheed was the first-ever democratically elected leader in the Maldives in 2008 and during his first year in office, he took his concerns about the environmental to dramatic ends at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009.The documentary captures Nasheed’s plea for a solution to the rising sea levels, particularly for the low-lying Maldives, just an average of five feet above the Indian Ocean. Footage reveals the classic political horse-trading at COP15 and shows Nasheed’s stirring speech at the event which is believed to have helped finally salvage some kind of agreement.
As a compelling voice for action on climate change, seen in the following exclusive excerpt, Nasheed proposes a strategy suitable for both developed and developing nations, noting how the vulnerability of the Maldives also applies to New York City. In light of current developments his statement seems all the more prescient:
“It won’t be any good to have a democracy if we don’t have a country.”
Treehugger reported last month that Nasheed was forced to resign as president on February 7, under threat of violence by security forces loyal to the former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled for 30 years.
In what is seen as a military coup, the then V.P., Dr. Mohamed Waheed took over the presidency of the Maldives.
Nasheed has been imprisoned numerous times for his political actions by the previous regime. Back in 1991, Amnesty International declared him a 'prisoner of conscience'. But in 2004, he co-founded the country's Maldivian Democratic Party as an exile in Sri Lanka.
The threat of shrinking shorelines (five meters and counting) for the 325,000 Maldivians continues. On watching The Island President, silencing Nasheed feels like a great loss -- or perhaps he needs a bigger platform. The inspiring film opens in the following cities with more to follow: 3/28 - New York, 3/30 - San Francisco, 4/6 - Los Angeles, 4/20 – Washington DC and San Diego
Watch the trailer:
The Island President, directed by Jon Shenk, whose films include the award winning Lost Boys of Sudan and Blame Somebody Else, will be screened at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London this week, Sweden’s EKO Film Festival, and film fests in Hong Kong, Poland, Panama, DC, Cleveland, and Australia, and it opens in the UK April 6.