The Island President

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The Island President
The Island President (film).jpg
Directed byJon Shenk
Produced byRichard Berge
Bonni Cohen
StarringMohamed Nasheed
Music byRadiohead
Marco D'Ambrosio
CinematographyJon Shenk
Edited byPedro Kos
Distributed bySamuel Goldwyn Films
Release date
  • 1 September 2011 (2011-09-01) (TFF)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Island President is a 2011 documentary film about the efforts of then-President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed to tackle rising sea levels resulting from climate change.[1] Produced by Actual Films, an Oscar- and Emmy-winning American documentary film company based in San Francisco, and directed by Jon Shenk,[2] the film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival.

The film was funded by groups including the Ford Foundation, the American Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies and the Sundance Institute.[3]

At the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, The Island President won the Cadillac People's Choice Documentary Award.[4][5]

US rights to The Island President were acquired by Samuel Goldwyn Films.[6] The film opened in New York City on March 28, 2012, followed by releases in other US cities, like Los Angeles and San Francisco.[7]

After Nasheed stepped down as President in February 2012, Shenk said that he hoped his film could help convince the world that Nasheed was deposed in a coup that was orchestrated by loyalists to the former dictator, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. “That might be the single most important thing that the movie can do. It’s now clear that this new government is not democratic, that the people who run the ministries are the same people who were there under the dictator.”[1]


The Island President received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a fresh rating of 98%, based on 45 reviews, with the consensus saying, "An eye-opening and appealing documentary about an earnest politician up against the closed door drama of climate change."[8] The film has a score of 72 out of 100 at Metacritic, based on 14 reviews.[9] A.O. Scott of The New York Times described the film as "buoyant and spirited" despite a grim postscript, praising its "spectacular aerial and underwater footage of the Maldives’ beauty" and stating that "It is impossible, while watching it, to root against Mr. Nasheed or to believe that he will fail".[10] Noel Murray of The A.V. Club gave the film a "B-", praising "the energy and conclusiveness" of its opening sections, but writing that "the movie stalls a bit" during the sections of international diplomacy.[11]


  1. ^ a b Vikas Bajaj (28 March 2012). "Climate Prophet in Hot Water: 'The Island President' and Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives". New York Times. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  2. ^ "The Island President". Actual Films. Archived from the original on 3 September 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
  3. ^ "Documentary film on climate efforts of Maldives President Nasheed to debut this year". 19 May 2011. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
  4. ^ "Toronto International Film Festival Announces 2011 Award Winners" (Press release). tiff. Archived from the original on 2012-01-14. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
  5. ^ June Chua (2011-09-18). "Lebanese filmmaker wins top TIFF prize". CBC News. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
  6. ^ Gordon Cox (2011-11-07). "Goldwyn votes for 'President'". Variety. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  7. ^ Hilary Saunders (2012-01-24). "Radiohead Provide Soundtrack to The Island President Documentary". Paste. Retrieved 2012-02-08.
  8. ^ The Island President at Rotten Tomatoes
  9. ^ The Island President at Metacritic
  10. ^ A.O. Scott (27 March 2012). "In Paradise, and Closer Than Ever to Disaster". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  11. ^ Noel Murray (29 March 2012). "The Island President". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 30 March 2012.

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