The Island President


The Island President

Critics Consensus

An eye-opening and appealing documentary about an earnest politician up against the closed door drama of climate change.



Total Count: 48


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,355
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Movie Info

The Island President is the story of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, a man confronting a problem greater than any other world leader has ever faced - the literal survival of his country and everyone in it. After bringing democracy to the Maldives after thirty years of despotic rule, Nasheed is now faced with an even greater challenge: as one of the most low-lying countries in the world, a rise of three feet in sea level would submerge the 1200 islands of the Maldives enough to make them uninhabitable. A classic David and Goliath tale, The Island President captures Nasheed's first year in office, culminating in his trip to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009 where the film provides a rare and unprecedented glimpse of the political horse-trading that goes on between world leaders at such a top-level global assembly. -- (C) Samuel Goldwyn

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Critic Reviews for The Island President

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (17)

  • The Island President is an important portrait of a determined man standing fast in a place where the ground is literally shifting beneath his feet.

    Jun 14, 2012 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • Climate-change documentaries are almost always disturbing, but "The Island President" communicates a special urgency.

    May 3, 2012 | Rating: 3/4
  • Nasheed is indeed inspirational, a cool-headed but passionate and courageous guy. You end up wishing a lot more leaders were like this guy.

    Apr 26, 2012 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Shenk expertly weaves Nasheed's extraordinary personal story together with the Maldives' breathtaking natural beauty and a Capra-esque tale of dogged idealism and political courage to create wonderfully vivid cinematic portraiture.

    Apr 20, 2012 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • What makes Nasheed's whirligig tactics so urgent is that, unlike most other countries participating in the summit, his own nation is actually in danger of being annihilated by climate change.

    Apr 6, 2012 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • "The Island President"is heartening and unsettling by turns.

    Apr 5, 2012 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Island President

  • Jun 22, 2013
    This an incredibly fascinating and, quite frankly, inspiring documentary about President Mohamed Nasheed's battle to bring to the Maldive Islands' struggle with rising sea tides thanks to climate change to the largest amount of people as is humanly possible so he can get the help he needs. The Maldive Islands' has an average ground level of 5 feet over sea level, making it the planet's lowest country. So Nasheed's struggle really is for the survival of his people and his country if climate change continues the way it is and his journey to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009 in order to get as many countries as possible to diminish carbon emissions so that Maldives can get the help it needs. What's really interesting about the documentary is everything leading to Nasheed's mission, the Maldive Islands' were ruled over by a dictator for 30 years and it shows you how Nasheed led the charge to introduce democracy. Perhaps it wasn't just Nasheed on his own, but he was certainly an important figure in it finally forcing Gayoom, the dictator, to allow fair and free elections. I literally had no idea about any of this and it really is fascinating seeing how Nasheed goes from a political prisoner to the President of the country. Which brings us to President Nasheed. What this man is trying to accomplish, especially when so much of the world completely denies that climate change is real and think it's a conspiracy by scientists, which is idiocy if you ask me, is really inspiring. President Nasheed is an incredibly likable man and his desperation to do right by his country when he most needs it makes it very easy to relate to him. It really is a David and Goliath story, much like Crude, but Nasheed refuses to give up as he knows it would be the end of his people, perhaps not right at the moment but in the very near future, and that makes him a sympathetic figure and you wish that his words end up reaching everyone and countries end up making a concerted effort to lower carbon emissions, even if you know it is unrealistic to expect that they all will. I do think that the film sort of peaked before the Copenhagen Summit, the negotiations simply don't have the same power as seeing Nasheed hold the first underwater cabinet meeting, and let me tell you that this is a great idea to bring the spotlight on climate change, and everything else leading up to that. But it still is really fascinating seeing the negotiations take place and seeing how things, at first, may not have been going Nasheed's way. At the end of the summit, he didn't get exactly everything he wanted but it was a victory for his people and while it wasn't perfect, his mission was a huge accomplishment. Even if i had some issues with the political stuff at the Summit, this is still a top-notch and completely eye-opening documentary that must be seen.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Apr 01, 2012
    In the simultaneously inspiring and harrowing documentary "The Island President," Mohamed Nasheed was elected to the presidency of the Maldives, a 2000 island archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean, bringing an end to a thirty-year repressive dictatorship in 2008. But a new struggle presents itself in global warming. Currently, the effects there can be seen in erosion and the groundwater. All of which could lead to a unique culture and nation being literally wiped from the map, and its country's population turned into 'environmental refugees.' So, instead of spending valuable resources on health care and education, he has to go with sea walls and other protective measures. So, through this example, we get a disturbing look at what all of our futures may be like if we do not change our ways very soon.(With the use of some great shots, the Maldvies do seem like something out of speculative fiction.) If our behavior affects all others across the globe, then why can't the butterfly flap its wings in the opposite direction, which is where Nasheed comes in, not only in speaking across the world(I'm not recommending invoking World War II usually in speehces, but if you have to, mention Czechoslovakia), but also in proposing to make his country entirely carbon neutral in 10 years by relying on renewable energy sources like solar and wind, making the Maldives an example for the rest of the world. This is harder than it sounds with the economic interests of countries like China and India making things especially difficult with a memorable climax at the climate conference at Copenhagen in 2009. But sadly, Nasheed did not have that much time as he was ousted in a threatened coup in February of this year.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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