Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films
One small country is facing a big issue and filmmaker Jon Shenk is bringing the concern from across the ocean to Ohio State.
Shenk will introduce his documentary film “The Island President” Saturday and Sunday at the Wexner Center for the Arts’ Film/Video Theater.
The documentary is about former president of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, who persevered through trials for the betterment of his country.
“He is just this incredible once-in-a-lifetime figure,” Shenk said. “He went through absolute hell to bring democracy to the Maldives.”
Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean.
Before Nasheed, who has since left office, was elected as president in 2008, he was thrown in jail, tortured and kept in solitary confinement by Maldives’ former dictator, Maumoon Gayoom.
“When he became president, he immediately started to talk very honestly about the climate problems the country was having… Due to the fact that the Maldives was so vulnerable to sea level rise,” Shenk said.
Shenk also said the Maldives sit low in the Indian Ocean, which makes them the one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change.
“The country is literally disappearing into the sea because of the ocean rising,” said Dave Filipi, director of Film/Video at the Wexner Center.
Expressing how incredibly charismatic Nasheed is on screen, Filipi said he is looking forward to the screening of this documentary because of its message.
“The film could almost be about any social issue as long as he was the one who was the activist behind it,” Filipi said. “He became this necessity for his country. He became one of the most recognizable global warming activists.”
After the Sunday viewing of the film, Nasheed will have a Skype conversation with Shenk and audience members.
Jennifer Wray, marketing and media assistant at the Wexner Center, said she thinks this film can appeal to a wide audience. She said the film features a score by alternative rock band Radiohead.
“The film touches on political and environmental issues that could really speak to the concerns of the audience members,” Wray said.
Shenk, who took two years to film the documentary, also said he thinks people are really going to enjoy what “The Island President” has to offer.
“I think any filmgoer that likes a good David and Goliath story, where you see the small guy go up against the big players in the world in order to win a important victory, will like this film,” Shenk said.