The Struggle for Survival

Film Recommendation

The Island President (2011)

Getting the Word Out

This documentary follows Mohamed Nasheed the (then) president of the Republic of Maldives. It’s about his quest to generate the necessary attention and subsequent policy measures for urgent climate action. Nasheed is on a mission to help prevent his country from being swallowed up by climate change.

The Maldives is a collection of islands in the Indian Ocean (Google Earth). It’s home to about 350, 000 (human) inhabitants, all of whom are in danger of becoming climate refugees as global temperatures increase and ocean waters rise. It doesn’t get much clearer than this. The climate crisis is a very real and frightening threat to so many island nations and coastal cities.

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed holding an underwater Cabinet meeting.
The Maldives President during the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting.

Treading the Maldives Political Currents

This danger is a central theme of the film, The Island President. Indeed, the doc does a good job of capturing the president’s energy and sentiments, as he responds to the threat. It follows Nasheed to a UN Climate Summit, where he does his best to advocate for combating climate change.

Mohamed Nasheed is no stranger to struggle and activism. He is already experienced in advocating for change, as he fought for political freedom in the Maldives. Nasheed had even spent years in prison for his activism and beliefs, as he fought for greater democracy and transparency.

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed Dragged Away to jail after being forced to resign at gunpoint.
President Nasheed was forced to resign at gunpoint.

Behind Bars Once Again

Since the release of this documentary, things have taken a turn for the worst for President Nasheed. In February 2015, Nasheed, the first democratically elected President of the Maldives, was forced at gunpoint to resign.

The coup d’état, orchestrated by police and military personnel, was prompted by a faction of individuals loyal to the former Maldive dictator. With a gun to his head, he was left with no choice.


Following his “resignation,” he then was literally dragged before the Maldives Criminal Court. Police were then ordered to keep him locked up until the end of his trial. As a result, the democratically elected Mr. Nasheed has once again found himself in a prison cell.

He has since been sentenced to 13 in prison on trumped-up charges of terrorism. Nasheed’s imprisonment is obviously politically motivated. These charges are decried by Amnesty International and the international community at large.

Despite his incarceration, Nasheed remains a symbol of the struggle for human survival in the face of climate change. Urgent climate action is desperately needed to avert the worse of the growing crisis.

For other brilliant documentaries, check out My Top 10 Climate Change Docs.


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