“The Island President”
Delivers a Sinking Feeling
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
My house is seven feet above sea level. That’s considered high ground here in Key West. Lucky I don’t live in the Maldives, a series of small islands in the Indian Ocean. That’s the lowest lying country in the world, an average of 4’ 11” above sea level.
You can learn more about the Maldives in “The Island President,” a new documentary that’s playing at the Tropic Cinema. It offers a profile of Mohamed Nasheed, that country’s first democratically elected president, and shows what he’s been doing to save his country from sinking into the sea.
Not a polemic like Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” this film focuses on (as the title promises) the island president who took on the environment.
Directed and photographed by Jon Shenk, the film follows Nasheed as he struggled at the 2010 Copenhagen World Wide Environmental Conference to make people aware of his country’s plight. If global warming raises the water level another three feet his country will disappear.
He’s had some success: members of this conference for the first time signed a document agreeing to reductions in carbon emissions.
No wonder Nasheed has become a worldwide symbol for environmental reform.
However, things are not going so good in his island country. A coup d’état has forced Mohamed Nasheed to resign and at last report he was in prison. The movie’s end credits are constantly being revised with updates on his situation. You’ll have to see what they say when you see this showing at the Tropic.
Some detractors call this a propaganda film. And claim Nasheed merely wanted to become a Hollywood celebrity. They dispute any threat of global warming, arguing that “beaches erode because of waves and their lack of protection from the elements,” rather than from sea levels rising.
Supporters applaud the attention he brought to an environmental problem. And are lionizing him as a crusader trying to save the world.
Politics aside, we can probably agree that the planet’s not in great shape.
Meanwhile, we here in Key West need to start worrying. We’re only a couple of feet behind the Maldives when it comes to being swallowed up by the sea.