SYNOPSIS: The Island President tells the story of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, a man confronting a problem greater than any other world leader has ever faced--the literal survival of his country and everyone in it. After bringing democracy to the Maldives after thirty years of despotic rule, Nasheed is now faced with an even greater challenge: as one of the most low-lying countries in the world, a rise of three feet in sea level would submerge the 1200 islands of the Maldives enough to make them uninhabitable.
The Island President captures Nasheed's first year of office, culminating in his trip to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, where the film provides a rare glimpse of the political horse-trading that goes on at such a top-level global assembly. Nasheed is unusually candid about revealing his strategies--leveraging the Maldives' underdog position as a tiny country, harnessing the power of media, and overcoming deadlocks through an appeal to unity with other developing nations.
When hope fades for a written accord to be signed, Nasheed makes a stirring speech which salvages an agreement. Despite the modest size of his country, Mohamed Nasheed has become one of the leading international voices for urgent action on climate change.
"The Maldives is considered among the nations most vulnerable to the rising sea levels... It is composed of 1,200 tiny islands in the Indian Ocean... It is likely that the sea will eventually overtake the islands. In 2009, I traveled to the Maldives to pitch Mr. Nasheed on my idea for a documentary film that would cover his dual challenges of despotism and global warming and culminate in Copenhagen in December 2009, where world leaders were to gather for a United Nations meeting about climate change. I realized I was asking for a lot: free rein to film cabinet meetings, intimate family meals and tense bilateral exchanges with world leaders. But Mr. Nasheed thought for only a moment before saying: “Yes. Let’s do it.” Throughout our one and a half years of filming, my team was struck by his candor, tirelessness, humanity and deep commitment to transparency.”
This pic with the Maldivian hero behind me was taken at the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. This was captured around 3 a.m. on the last day of the negotiations. I was impressed by President Nasheed's vigor throughout the night. I had left around 7 a.m. to catch a flight, with President Nasheed still continuing to fight for his country...
He was truly a rockstar at this summit. He had given a speech that moved the world of which he had compared the plight of the Maldives to Gandhi’s plight in India.
"History shows us the power of peaceful protes. From the civil rights movement, to Gandhi's Quit India campaign; non-violent protest can create change. Protest worked in the struggle for democracy in the Maldives."