Friday, July 6, 2012

The Island President (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway 

The Island President

"The Island President" is about the formerly elected president of the Maldives, Mohammed Nasheed. The documentary set in the chain of islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean "between paradise and paradise" 250 miles Southwest of India, will have you thinking of Key West and the environmental quandaries that face us all.

President Nasheed was a fighter from the get go, but rather than carry weapons, compassion and facts are his ammunitions for a better Maldives, and by extension a better world. Nasheed was jailed more than twenty times and tortured on several occasions for his opposition to long-time president Maumoon Gayoom. In 2008, Nasheed was the first democratically-elected president of The Maldives. He has taken on the Avengers-worthy cause of getting his fellow developing nations  to reduce carbon emissions from the dangerous number of nearly  397 CO2 ppm to a sustainable 350. It is an uphill battle but he soldiers on as stoic as Captain America with more barbed wit than Tony Stark. 

In the documentary as Nasheen's islands are faced with ravenous erosion, he has no choice. Homes have been ravaged and the 2004 tsunami has devastated the chain of islands. Nasheen not only represents an Edenic chain, but he also represents an entire culture and there is not another like it.  Nasheen has called global warming  a "Nazi Invasion" and while the more measured among us might think this  outrageous, consider that Nasheen has met with countless experts and they have unanimously come to a consensus: this is a matter of life and death for the island chain. Nasheen takes a brave stand. The Maldives will be the first developing nation to go carbon neutral in the next ten years. But that's not all. Nasheen also engineers a proposal to reduce carbon emission to a sustainable 350 ppm with a 1.5 celsius degree rise. Such a proposal is nothing short of revolutionary, but ultimately achievable and imperative.

A suspense builds that is worthy of a Roland Emmerich film with The Maldives hanging in the balance like a cluster of blue satin gloves. With every setback and every meeting Nasheen keeps advancing with a bouncy aplomb. His enthusiasm is rivaled only by Geoffrey Canada in "Waiting for Superman" (2010). The stubbornness of India and China is no match for him. One Chinese reporter asks him what plan B is,  should his proposal go unanswered. 
"Plan B? There is no Plan B. We will die." 

Iron Man has nothing on President Nasheen. He moves into the night of scientific ignorance with a disarming mixture of compassion, humor and conviction. Neither India or China want to take the plunge, thinking it an assault to their right for an upwardly mobile standard of living. Although Nasheen is vexed, he fires question after question. Resistance begins to weaken under the President's sincerity. No country wants to appear an ecological Grinch or a stubborn ass.

"The Island President" is beautifully shot with sweeping curves of blue that show The Maldives as they are---Beauty Marks on the face of Neptune while the score by Radiohead gives all these scallops of paradisiacal blue a spacey, psychedelic edge reminiscent of Pink Floyd.
 President Nasheen is currently in exile and our global and island leaders can talk and talk and talk in shades of red or blue, and perhaps make concessions to various constituents. Nature however is the ultimate decider. Only we can decide to make the choice (or not) to go along with her.

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