Monday, March 26, 2012

A review of 'The Island President'

Dustin Chang in In early February this year, Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected (in 2008) president of the republic of Maldives, a tiny nation consists of 1,200 islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, was forced to resign in a military coup by the loyalists to Maumood Abdul Gayoom, the former president. This bizarre and tragic turn of event needs the world's attention because Nasheed's victory over Gayoom, an autocrat who ruthlessly ruled the country for 30 years, precedes the Egypt Revolt and the Arab Spring. The Island President's release couldn't have come at any more opportune time than now.

Filmmaker Jon Shenk (Lost Boys of Sudan, The Rape of Europa) documents with unprecedented access, Nasheed's first year in the office as the beacon in the fight against the global warming. For him and the 400,000 Maldivians, the climate issue has direct consequences. The Maldives, considered as the lowest lying nation in the world (mere 1.5 meters above sea level on average), could be under water before 2050 if the carbon emission to the atmosphere keeps up its current pace.

Nasheed, a political activist who was jailed, tortured and exiled before becoming the first democratically elected president, proves to be an unusually shrewd and sophisticated politician who grasped that only way he could stand up to the catastrophic issues of climate change facing his country would be to take his case to the world stage through the power of media. He declares his nation the first country to go carbon neutral within a decade. He holds a symbolic parliament meeting under water with international TV crew in tow. In a good way, with his boundless charm and charisma, Nasheed makes Shenk and his crew his mouthpiece for the cause in exchange for unfettered access to his administration and beyond...

A photo from the Maldives, shot by Nevit Dilmen, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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