Film of the Week #1: The Island President
The subjects of global warming and environmental responsibility are certainly political hot-potatoes at the moment. The rather unhappy conclusion of the Rio+20 Environmental Summit has forced a rather dim global outlook for mitigation against the effects of climate change: a battle which looks decidedly uphill. But it seems that nobody is more anxious to make a stab at the battle against global warming than Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed, whose country’s very existence may depend on how the world reacts to the phenomenon.
It’s easy to think that this will be another An Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore’s film about his favourite PowerPoint presentation had some immediate impact, but ultimately came across as a rather embittered rant at the Bush administration. The Island President tackles the subject in a much more identifiable way – by putting focus on the messenger, rather than just the message. It documents how Nasheed was put in solitary confinement for 18 months because he spoke against the Maldives’ previous administration, how on his release was elected as the country’s first democratic leader, and how he worked non-stop in an almost one-man battle to go on to become a world symbol for environmental reform. It’s a truly inspiring story, and Nasheed’s enduring charm and sincerity makes it all the more enjoyable.
The film’s composition, which blends a subtle Radiohead soundtrack with inspired time-lapses of the Maldivian landscape, highlights both the beauty and the vulnerability of the islands. It’s a piece which, instead of lecturing its audience about the presence of climate change, inspires them to think of what might be lost, and in doing so instills a sense of responsibility to help in whichever way possible.
The Island President is out on DVD on 20 August.