India-Maldives Film Festival launched

The India-Maldives Film Festival was launched last night at Malé’s Olympus theatre as part of the ‘Love for Bollywood Festival’ being held to celebrate the Golden Jubilee anniversary of diplomatic relations.

The award winning comedy-drama ‘3 Idiots’ was shown yesterday after a cultural segment from the Indian Cultural Centre, while additional Indian and Dhivehi films will be show over the next two evenings. Entry is free.

Minister of Youth and Sports Mohamed Maleeh Jamal attended yesterday’s event, thanking the Indian government for its continued support, while the Indian High Commission announced that a grant of US$1000 has been provided to the Maldives Film Association to support this year’s activities.

The ‘Love for Bollywood’ festival also includes a Bollywood quiz, a cultural evening at the Alimas Carnival area on January 24, and a South Asian art exhibition between January 26 and 31.

The events are sponsored by the State Trading Organization, telecom provider Ooredoo, the State Bank of India, and Indian infrastructure giant Tata Housing.


‘Island President’ wins People’s Choice award at Toronto International Film Festival

“The Island President” was awarded the Cadillac People’s Choice Award for Best Documentary at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of the world’s five most prestigious films festivals.

The award was delivered in a uniquely democratic fashion, voted not by critics but by festival audience members who attended the screening. The film was one of 25 submissions in the documentary category.

Director Jon Shenk has previously won awards for his documentary films, notably “Lost Boys of Sudan” and “Smile Pinki”; the latter received an Oscar in 2009.

A government official who met Shenk during his time in the Maldives in 2009 said the government knew he was a successful director, and hoped for a positive response.

The official noted that the Maldives is known internationally for tourism and climate change, but hopes that this award will bring more awareness to areas such as North America.

State Minister for Tourism Mohamed Thoyyib called the documentary a “big achievement for the Maldives”, promoting the destination to audiences in North America who were previously unaware of the country’s “pristine, clear waters, white beaches, and beautiful fish.”

Thoyyib added that in spite of its title the documentary was not about President Mohamed Nasheed but rather 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, said Thoyyib.

“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 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.”

Funding for the documentary was provided by the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, ITVS, Impact Partners, Sundance Documentary Fund, and Atlantic Philanthropies.

Minister of Tourism Dr Mariyam Zulfa said that the President had gained the attention and support of the international community before the film was produced. “The under water cabinet meeting that the President hosted in 2009 generated a lot of interest in the Maldives as an eco-destination,” she said.

Zulfa expects the film to have a positive impact on both tourism and eco-awareness. “Generating interest in the Maldives is always a good thing. We are adopting green standards and reducing waste, and are always open to new ideas from the international community,” she said.

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

In the coming months, “The Island President” will be soliciting distributors for viewing in cinemas and on public television. The film already has a contract with the US’ Public Broadcasting Service, which had helped fund the project, and will be aired on US television next year.

A screening of the documentary is scheduled for the Maldives later this year.


President inaugurates Maldives Film Awards

President Mohamed Nasheed last night joined some of the country’s most high-profile film makers and actors in Male’ to inaugurate a new awards ceremony honoring their work.

The Maldives Film Awards, which are said to have been organised for the first time by the Maldives Film Association, were held at the Social Centre in Male’ with the film ‘Happy Birthday’ proving the night’s major winner – earning 12 accolades.

The production, directed by Mumin Fuadh, collected awards for best film, director and original screenplay as well as the best actor accolade for Yosuf Shafiu.

Among the other categories contested on the night, the award’s jury gave Niuma Mohamed the best actress prize for her role in the film ‘Yousuf’. The ceremony also saw Ahmed Laish Asim collect the award for best child actor in the film ‘Yousuf’.

Other major recipients during the ceremony included Hassan Manik, who took home a lifetime achievement award.