Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Island President

THE ISLAND PRESIDENT (Jon Shenk/US-Germany/2011)
Jon Shenk's faithful and intelligent documentary is about Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected President of the Maldives in 2008, this documentary follows him for the first 18 months of his Presidency culminating in the 2009 Copenhagen Conference on climate change.
The Maldives whilst an image of paradise and a font of luxury tourism, is sadly gripped by the rising water levels due to global warming.  Its main island is at risk from rising sea levels, sitting only 1 metre above sea level.  As he expertly tells a New York radio presenter who attempts to shout him down stating that climate change is a developing world problem - Nasheed states that Manhattan is in the same position as Male (the Maldives capital) sitting just 1 metre above sea level.
Nasheed is an articulate gentleman, at times outspoken but a good orator and delegate, a politician who mixes the personal beliefs with those of the people who elected him with grace and humour; his smile is one that can light up a room.
Sadly, since this documentary was completed, on 7th February 2012 there has been a military coup against Nasheed by the same supporters of his dictator predecssor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, a warlord who was the only leader for whole generations of the Maldives. 
Nasheed was a figure for a small island, inserted as a symbol of hope and change (not unlike his American counterpart, Barack Obama), the black cloud though of climate change and global warming has been shunted and forgotten from the world consciousness due to the grip of the poor economic global climate. 
The story about how he came into power against the might of Gayoom is quite gripping, yet Nasheed's past as an investigative journalist where he exposed corruption was going to be the same reason he was usurped by the military coup.
Money makes the world go round it seems, yet Nasheed will not be forgotten about, as he speaks directly to the camera, 'We just can't disappear. We just can't'.  This timely and well produced documentary which has unprecedented access to the workings of a government's interior and cabinet is insightful and deeply assertive of the climate change situation in the world, may end on the worry of disappearance yet warrants to be seen by the masses - at least before paradise is lost.
The Island President is available now on DVD.

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