Jon Shenk on location with President Mohamed Nasheed – Photo by Lincoln Else
“Observational documentary filmmaking is kind of like hunting when you’re really hungry. You’re never satisfied.”
– Documentarian Jon Shenk
“It won’t be any good to have a democracy if we don’t have a country.”
– Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed
The Island President which opened last weekend in New York and San Francisco and debuts in Los Angeles this weekend (visit the film’s website for additional dates and locations) tells the story of Mohamed Nasheed, a Maldivian political activist turned president who endured years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of his island nation’s government to rise up and become the country’s first democratically elected leader in 2008. Made up of a series of flat islands that only rise 1.5 meters above sea level, the Maldives are kind of a canary in the coalmine when it comes to global warming. A mere 3 foot rise in the level of the world’s oceans would render uninhabitable an archipelago that has known civilization for thousands of years. For Nasheed obviously, a reduction in global carbon output was critical mission number one. The Island President traces the charismatic and persuasive leader’s first year in office culminating in his efforts at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Summit.
In addition to refocusing a distracted world’s attention on a pressing global problem, this documentary shows how even the seemingly smallest voices can have an extraordinary impact. In anticipation of the film’s April 6th Los Angeles debut, I recently spoke on the telephone with Jon Shenk, the director and cinematographer of The Island President. Check out my conversation over at Awards Daily.
Filed under: LiC Interview