Title: The Island President
Director: Jon Shenk
It’s pretty amazing to see the impact one small island nation and their leader have on the world environmental landscape. The actions of larger nations like the United States affect every other nation in the world. The new film by filmmaker Jon Shenk (Lost Boys of Sudan), “The Island President,” which was also part of the DOC NYC Film Festival last year, explores the environmental effects on the small island nation of the Republic of Maldives and what their president and leader, Mohamed Nasheed, will do to prevent his nation from extinction.
The Republic of Maldives is an island nation in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It’s a very proud nation whose economy is largely based on tourism and their thriving fishing industry. Both the nation and their way of life are dying due to the effects of global warming. The Republic of Maldives is sinking at an alarming rate. Despite the island’s lyrical and quiet beauty, there is this looming threat of extinction, just beneath the surface.
The film mostly follows President Mohamed Nasheed, as he tries to gain the world’s attention to the problems of the Republic of Maldives. He travels from country to country, while bringing awareness to the global threat of environmental warming and tries to sway other nations to support his cause. Mohamed Nasheed travels to the United States to speak at the UN in New York City and even brushes shoulders with President Barack Obama. Most of the film captures President Mohamed Nasheed on his day-to-day exploits but gives some haunting notions of how ineffectual his efforts are, in terms of his own sheer celebrity. It’s a little heartbreaking to see the president of a proud island nation eating at a local sports bar in the States to very little fanfare. It speaks volumes to the public awareness of his nation and the environmental problem at large.
Despite President Mohamed Nasheed resignation in early 2012 (the film was completed and released before these events transpired), “The Island President” is an important film to bring to light the environmental concerns of the world. As Americans, we are blind to everything that has nothing to do with our country or selves, but when a problem becomes large enough we act. Global warming affects rising sea levels, which affects the entire world. Unless we recognize the problem and pass legislation to slow this down, then the world may one day find itself underwater. The problems of the Republic of Maldives are the problems of the world. Will you act?