Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Island President and me

Ok, so this blog has gotten a little dormant.  It's been a busy semester for your faithful correspondent, and with DYNAMO over, my focus has been elsewhere.  The MJO has actually been pretty exciting, but that's not what I'm writing about today.

The film "The Island President", a documentary about former President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives by director Jon Shenk, opened in New York last week.  I had wanted to see this for some time and finally got the chance.  So on Sunday, I went with my wife and kids down to the Film Forum in lower Manhattan where it was showing.  And who do you think we saw there, totally unexpected?  THE ISLAND PRESIDENT, Nasheed himself!  The photo is kind of crummy, but hopefully you can tell it's him, next to me and my 13 year-old son Eli:

If you want to convince yourself it's the right guy, compare it to some of the press photos from the movie.  It was completely amazing to see him there.  He had essentially no entourage, just the film's producer was with him when I introduced myself.  I told him I was a climate scientist who had been there for DYNAMO.  He didn't seem to know what I was talking about until I mentioned being on Gan island in particular, and then he did.  I would have liked to talk to him longer but the movie was about to start, and anyway I was too star-struck and tongue-tied and didn't want to take advantage of him for being such a low-key, friendly man of the people.

After the movie, he did a 20 minute Q&A with the audience, which I got on video.   Here is a very short clip from it:

 Ain't it the truth what he says?

About the movie:  it's excellent.  So much recent history there.  Of the Maldives, and its transition (unfortunately recently reversed) to a democracy, with President Nasheed being so much the leader of that, and having sacrificed so much for it in his life;  and of the climate negotiations, in Copenhagen in 2009 and elsewhere.  Shenk and his crew had amazing access to the President and his inner circle.  One gets a real sense of being on the inside of these huge - if ultimately disappointing - events, and also of Nasheed as a person and as a leader.  It's particularly impressive how much attention he has been able to draw to global warming and the plight of low-lying, small island states, just by being charismatic, articulate and forceful.

I highly recommend the film to anyone.  Besides all the inspiring aspects of the story, it also features a lot of beautiful footage of the Maldives.  If the film does well, it may help draw positive attention both to the plight of that small country, and to the global issue of climate change, which still so sorely needs it (especially here in the USA).  Those who don't like Al Gore's onscreen personality might well find Mohamed Nasheed more compelling.