‘Island President’ shows Maldives as ‘canary in the coalmine’ of climate change: Aspen Times

The Island President, an award-winning documentary about President Mohamed Nasheed’s environmental campaign at the Copenhagen Climate Summit, has been screened in Aspen Colorado ahead of its upcoming US release.

Several pre-release screenings were held in Male’ last year, to generally positive local reactions. Overseas, the film has been compared to a humanising version of Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, which catapulted climate change to the top of the public agenda on its release.

“An Inconvenient Truth put a lot of inconvenient, and disturbing, facts and predictions in front of viewers. But the film, which earned the Academy Award for best documentary, didn’t put much of a human face on the environmental catastrophe of which it warned,” wrote Stewart Oksenhorn for the Aspen Times. “Featuring the wooden Al Gore alongside the PowerPoint presentation of statistics and forecasts didn’t do much to humanise the issue.”

“The Maldives, a nation of low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean, could be well considered the canary in the coal mine regarding rising temperatures and waters. The Maldives is also a tiny country, and combines the lack of influence with Nasheed’s small physique and sing-songy voice, and he comes off not as a bully but as an unlikely, and easy-to-like, voice in the environmental movement.

“’He’s real,’ said Director Jon Shenk. I’n a funny way, he’s an everyday guy who says everyday things. He’s not an untouchable figure like Gandhi. He’s willing to compromise.'”

“‘He plays like he has nothing to lose,’” said Shenk. “’He’s been pushed to the edge with torture. I think of him as this guy who wakes up every day and says, ‘Well, here’s another day I wasn’t supposed to have — what am I going to do with it?’”

“'[The film] is as much about leadership and political issues,’” he said. “It’s not uncommon for people to watch ‘The Island President’ and say, ‘Wow, I wish I had a president like that.’ You dream about this guy as your next leader.”

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