An Oscar and Emmy-winning film production company based in San Franscisco, Actual Films, has produced a 90 minute documentary charting the Maldives’ efforts to raise awareness of climate change in the lead up to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Summit.
The Maldivian government was approached by Actual Films in early 2009 seeking behind-the-scenes access to President Mohamed Nasheed and cabinet ministers.
After two years, US$1.5 million, 140 hours of footage and a soundtrack by Radiohead, the company has produced a 90 minute documentary ‘The Island President’, to be released in cinemas later this year.
The film was entirely funded by the US Ford Foundation, American Corporation for Public Broadcasting, MacArthur Foundation, Atlantic Foundation and the Sundance Institute.
The Maldivian government insists it had no editorial input into the film, which was left completely to Actual Films and Emmy-winning Director Jon Shenk.
“It felt a bit weird for the first two hours but after that the ministers seemed to forget the cameras were there,” said a senior government source.
“It is unprecedented for a documentary maker to be given round-the-clock access to a head of state, probably for very good reason.”
The source, who was shown a pre-release version of the film, described it as “somewhat like a real-life episode of the West Wing”; giving a unique perspective on the high-level machinations of world powers that would make it of interest to politics buffs as well as environmental activists, “and it will probably do wonders for tourism.”
“Everyone who’s seen it so far says it’s made them proud to be Maldivian,” the source said, adding that it was the first time a film about the Maldives was to be shown at international film festivals.
The film will be released in US cinemas later this year and aired in the Maldives in early 2012.
A trailer for the film can be seem at http://theislandpresident.com/