Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Island President

We went to see The Island President yesterday, the movie about the president of the Maldives' battle against global warming.

First, let me tell you about the Lighthouse cinema in Smithfield. Beautiful modern cinema, good seats. Plenty of good movies. But in the wrong location. You can call me a Southsider if you want. Maybe I am. I tell it like I saw it. We walked across Ha'penny bridge, had a lovely sushi box and miso soup at Kokoro Sushi Bento, a little takeaway place on Liffey street, then moved towards the Jervis Street shopping centre, which was humming. We then followed the tourist signs for Smithfield and the Jameson Distillery, a major tourist attraction. It's a straight route, but you won't find too many people around the area, except for the hooded types. Call me paranoid, but I was holding on to my handbag for dear life, and I was nearly telling those American tourists to hold on to their cameras!

When we got to the Market Square in Smithfield, the place was eerily quiet. A few cafés, at least two closed-down restaurants, an Asian shop selling Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags (I was tempted), a mini-supermarket. That's it. In the Celtic Tiger days, Smithfield was hyped to become the humming new centre of Dublin, competing with Temple Bar for youth buzz. Well, I'd say that's one failed experiment! The only youth we saw was as woman cursing at her two young boys.

And in the middle of that, the Lighthouse cinema - A great cinema, but sorry to say I will not be going to any evening movies there.

But I digress. Let me come back to my original topic, The Island President. This movie is a fly-on-the-wall documentary, following Mohamed Nasheed, the first President of the Maldives to be democratically elected in 30 years, as he battles to save his country from extinction. Soon after taking office, he realised that his country was doomed if nothing was done to stop carbon dioxide emissions causing global warming and the rising of the seas. The Maldives is a very low-lying country, without even a small little hill, and if the water level rises by more than a meter, the country will be gone. It's as simple as that. So Nasheed, who had spent years in prison for his political views, 18-months of which in solitary confinement in a corrugated-iron hut, started his fight to highlight the plight of his country and influence superpowers, the culmination of which took him to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009. He comes across as a brave man, an honest man, a likable man too. There is so much to lose, a whole country. He's not afraid to ruffle a few feathers, to shake super-powers like India and China into action. He doesn't care about all the politicking that goes on. He just wants results. If we had more politicians like him, the world would be a better place.Unfortunately, he's recently had to resign, apparently under threat of a military coup by supporters of the former dictator. Hopefully this movie will help re-ignite the fire in the battle against global warming. And let's hope that things work out for Mohamed Nasheed and his family, and for democracy in the Maldives.

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