Spotlight on: Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed

The Island President—A Documentary About Mohamed Nasheed from Sawyer Studios on Vimeo.

Mohamed Nasheed’s story is certainly dramatic: imprisoned and tortured more than 20 times for opposing Maldivian dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, an instigator for two rebellions that helped give way to democratic reforms, and eventually the democratically elected president. Just this past February, though, he was forced to resign in a coup led by loyalists of the former dictator.

Political drama aside, Nasheed has continued to make headlines, now with a documentary about his efforts to mitigate climate change. Climate change is a particularly personal issue to Nasheed because the Maldives, an archipelago south of India, has the lowest peak-elevation of any country in the world. In fact, most of the islands are only between 3 and 5 feet above sea level. This makes the country especially susceptible to the rising ocean tides associated with global warming. Dictatorship or democracy, the Maldives are, quite literally, in peril.

Shot between 2009 and 2010 while Nasheed was still president, the movie’s title, The Island President, is a bit of a sad misnomer given February’s events. The movie’s message, though, is Nasheed’s primary concern. In a recent interview with Salon, Nasheed put his opinion on climate change in perspective, saying “We do everything that we do for our children. Why are you working? Why am I working?… We should have policies for our children.” Nasheed went on to say that democratic leaders need to begin thinking more long-term and stop listening to oil companies or naysayers concerned about the next election.  “You might lose power,” he said, “but you are saving your children. We can’t have our policies only go as far as their noses, and the next election.”

After making the rounds at film festivals for the past year,The Island President has amassed very positive reviews. The documentary is now showing in select cities.

Interview with Mohamed Nasheed on

Official website of The Island President


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