“The Island President” to be shown in Maldives

Documentary film “The Island President” will make its debut in the Maldives during the week of November 21. Specifics have not yet been released.

“The Island President” was screened at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September, where it received the Cadillac People’s Choice Award for Best Documentary by audience vote. The film was one of 25 submissions in the documentary category.

The documentary was also screened at the exclusive Telluride Film Festival in Colorado earlier this month, where Hollywood Reporter named “The Island President” one of the festival’s “Top 12 films to know”.

The grant-funded film project began in 2009, when Oscar- and Emmy- winning American documentary company Actual Films contacted the Maldives’ newly-elected government. In an interview on Mavericks, Director Jon Shenk said the film was an evolutionary process. “It’s difficult to explain a film that involves a lot of  access and high ratio shooting,” he said, describing his initial proposal to the President. In other interviews, Shenk noted that Nasheed’s candid politics and acceptance of the cameras were key to the film’s success.

“The manner in which he’s done this is quite amazing,” Nasheed said in the same interview. “I myself am realising the things I have done and said, I hope it’s not going to get me in a bad boat! But I think it’s nicely done and I’m sure there’s nothing that anyone should get unnecessarily worked up about.”

Starting with Nasheed’s initial vow to make the Maldives carbon-neutral, the film documents the president’s efforts to make climate change an important issue for politicians around the globe.

“The ability to sustain human life here is very fragile,” Nasheed says in the documentary. “The most important fight is the fight for our survival…. There is impending disaster.”

The film culminates in Copenhagen, where world leaders met in December 2009 for the United National Climate Change Conference. Although the summit was later reviewed as a failure, it did mark the first time that leading world powers agreed that the issue needed to be addressed.

“The Island President” was co-produced by AfterImage Public Media and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), in association with Actual Films and Impact Partners, with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Ford Foundation, John D. and The Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, and the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund.

The Maldives is the film’s fifth stop on an international tour that has included TIFF, Telluride, Doc NYC and IDFA Amsterdam film festivals. After the Maldives screening it will be shown at the International Film Festival of India in Goa.

State Minister for Tourism Mohamed Thoyyib previously told Minivan News that in spite of its title the documentary was not about President Mohamed Nasheed. Rather, it is about the issues facing the Maldivian people. The film raised awareness of global warming, portrayed and promoted “the unique ” Maldivian culture and language, and illustrated government transparency, he said.

“No scene was created or scripted, some reviewers even noted that the film’s most unique aspect was that it shot real events on a level that had never before been achieved in the Maldives, or within other governments,” Thoyyib said.

Thoyyib also noted that the Maldivian government had benefited a great deal from the film, but had not spent money on its production.

“There is a lot to be achieved directly and indirectly when something positive happens,” he said, adding that tourism revenue was likely to increase. “But this doesn’t solve the issue. The President will keep on raising his voice on global warming.”

President’s Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair today said he didn’t believe the government was officially involved in the upcoming screening, but was optimistic about the event.

“I believe it will be well-received in the Maldives,” he said. “The film delivers a serious but hopeful message, addressing both the issue of climate change while also showing democratic improvements in the government.”

Zuhair elaborated on the country’s progress by comparing use of foreign aid in previous administrations. He hoped the Maldives would be used as an example for other small countries.

“Any small or new country receiving aid from a foreign party should process it democratically. The money received after the tsunami was not disposed of well by the former government, whose methods are highlighted by the ongoing debate in our judicial system. Comparatively, the government procedures that the movie covers show what a young democracy can do to improve transparency. The Maldives now has different democratic assets, and can handle change.”

When asked if the screening bore relevance to the SAARC summit now taking place in Addu City, Zuhair said climate change would be a major talking point. He added that the summit is another indicator of the Maldives’ democratic growth. “SAARC shows our effort to be not just an active, but a proactive member of an international organisation,” he said.

Filmmakers Shenk and Richard Berg will accompany the film to Male’.


8 thoughts on ““The Island President” to be shown in Maldives”

  1. Sounds really good. Can not wait to see it with family and friends. At last we can be known around the world for other things outside a beach destination and holiday. Good PR.

  2. funny that the president did not have a clue that a film was being made when he sat with the producer and signed the contract and narrated the whole thing...

  3. Oh god.

    I never read A Man for All Islands and I certainly will never watch The Island President.

    What other codswallop will the Western powers force our leaders to pose for? Here are some suggestions.

    Abdulla Yamin - The Islander (Maldivian version of the Scottish tale)
    Qasim Ibrahim - No Man is an Island
    Hassan Saeed - Island Justice
    Ahmed Thasmeen Ali - No Man's Island

  4. @Tsk tsk: Oh yes, the West absolutely "forced" Maumoon to agree to allowing a Man for All Islands to be published. Maumoon so did not want the ppl, the world to read about how he was the best at Al-Azhar in Arabic, how benevolent he was, how wise he was, oh know, but the West "forced" him to agree to its release, and poor Maumoon has to live with the pain of the existance of a book out there declaring how great he is!

    And Anni was absolutely DEVASTATED to learn that a film was going to be released by a Westerner presenting him as a hero, but he had no choice, the Kaffirs will over his decision making process was too powerful!

    Because, Maldivians are all so, selfless, helpless and innocent and us Westerners are all so powerful, tyrannical and evil...

    And I am accused of being racist???

  5. Aharen .... The answer absolutely nothing! Not that you would believe the truth or real facts, you are simply not programmed that way.

  6. @Ben:

    Calm down brother. I was just pointing out the obvious. Both the books and the movie were funded and marketed by Western individuals.

    Both the book and the movie further a personality cult while also serving Western ends with regards to international climate change politics.

    Both the leaders were struggling at home due to waning approval ratings from the intelligentsia and the corporate community when the media in question was produced.

    Both productions serve only one end, to keep a regime in power for geopolitical goals that have nothing to do with the local communities in our country.

  7. tsk tsk

    By intelligentsia if you mean the likes of Hassan Saeed, his lawyer side kick Jameel, Aishath Azima Shukur, the enigmatic well educated Yameen with his economic and management credentials (competence demonstrated by being "unaware" of the $800 million hole in the company of which he was chairman of) or the numerous PPM sponsored "experts" on tv such as the esteemed soothsayer Adeeb ..... I am happy to be on the side of the activist horde.

    I'm glad President Nasheed never was part of this intelligentsia.

    Your insistence on comparing a dictatorship which surpressed dissent to the point of arresting children for writing the wrong essays in school with todays government only demonstrates your cognitive dissonance.


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