Some may have seen a few posts from me on Facebook over the past months encouraging people to see the recent documentary The Island President, and I wanted to mention it again now that it is available to rent or purchase on iTunes in both HD and standard editions. The film is the story of Mohamed Nasheed, a political dissident from the country of Maldives, a collection of islands, atolls and archipelagos located southwest of India in the Indian Ocean. The film explores the full details of his life, but for a quick overview that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface —–> he began a political revolution that brought democracy to the Maldives, and took him to the presidency, replacing a dictator who not only oppressed, tortured and sold out the people of the Maldives for 30 years, but did the very same to Nasheed, placing him in solitary confinement and torturing him for eighteen months, all for just speaking out and giving a voice to the people. Nasheed’s rise to power was just the beginning, as his next fight was for the very survival and existence of not only the Malvidian people, but their land. Because of climate change, the future of the Maldives, having lost dozens of islands to the rising sea waters already, is in doubt. Nasheed, as a result, spent the majority of his time in office – before a coup d’état by loyalists of the former dictator resulted in his ouster – doing everything he could to not only save the Maldives, but to alarm the world of the urgency of climate change. Manhattan for example is, after all, at the same sea level as the Maldivian capital, Malé! Currently, the Maldives are estimated to only have about 7-8 years left, before disappearing into the sea.
As serious sounding as all this is, what makes the film so compelling and enjoyable is President Nasheed himself. On June 26, a friend and I went to the Kendall Square Theater in Cambridge as they were hosting a screening of the film followed by a Q&A session with President Nasheed. It was apparent the personality you see on screen is the real deal. He is kind, humble, brave, very funny and very optimistic. So optimistic that he spoke of the coup d’état against him, in which he was taken at gunpoint, as just a bump in the road. And he said it with a smile. The film lets that personality shine, and elevates it to a great documentary, almost fun, if I dare say.
I very highly recommend checking out The Island President when you have the time. If I had a rating system, I would give this 67 orange Creamsicles.
Also, if you’re interested, President Nasheed appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on April 2. You can access both segments here …