Mohamed Nasheed went to great lengths to slow global warming.
THE ISLAND PRESIDENT (Jon Shenk). 101 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (June 15) at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See Times. Rating: NNN
A fascinating look at an extraordinary personality, Jon Shenk's documentary chronicles Maldives (former) president Mohamed Nasheed's efforts to slow global warming and arrest the rising water level that will soon swallow his country.
Nasheed's story has become even more interesting since the film's completion: he's recently been relieved of his presidency "at gunpoint" in what he claims was a military coup. Of course, that's a whole other story.
A former political prisoner who fought his country's long-standing dictatorship and spent years in exile, Nasheed returned to the Maldives to become its first democratically elected president. Nicknamed "the Mandela of the Maldives," he's a charismatic figure with some unorthodox ways of getting attention, like holding a cabinet meeting underwater (in full scuba gear) to get the point across about where his country is heading.
Shenk gains impressive access to this humble head of state, and Nasheed's backroom wheeling and dealing during the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit is thrilling. Surprisingly, it takes a tremendous effort to get politicians to agree to save the world.
Yet such one-sided collaboration with the subject makes you wonder whether some footage was doctored Michael Moore-style - not that it's hard to take a side when it comes to the environment.