mohamednasheed_web.jpgNEW YORK — The Island President – the 2011 Toronto Film Festival Audience Award winner hailed by critics and environmental journalists worldwide, and set to the mesmerizing music of Radiohead – has premiered as an iTunes exclusive.

The Island President is the story of President Mohamed Nasheed, a man confronting a problem greater than any other world leader has ever faced – the literal survival of his country and everyone in it. 

The handsome, young leader of the Maldives, a paradise composed of 1,200 tiny islands strewn like jewels atop the Indian Ocean, is captured

during his first year in office in this David and Goliath tale. The film reveals with stunning transparency and intimacy his battle with the climate change that threatens to destroy his nation.

Nasheed’s candid, intelligent, often humorous speeches and asides make for a totally refreshing experience in political activism as he builds a democracy that replaces the decades of oppression and corruption that prevailed before his election.

But as he pointedly notes: “It won’t be any good to have a democracy if we don’t have a country.” The Indian Ocean is rising, and if carbon emissions continue at their present levels or if they climb, the Maldives will definitely disappear. 

Filmmaker Jon Shenk (The Lost Boys of Sudan) gives an honest, no-holds-barred portrait of a man leading the charge to save his 3,000-year-old nation — and maybe the rest of us too.

Hailed as a visionary and named an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience, Nasheed, the first democratically-elected president of the Maldives, was back in the news in February when he was forced to resign under duress in a coup d’état orchestrated by the military and forces loyal to the former dictator. 

Yet despite a warrant out for his arrest, Nasheed continues to fight for democracy at home while continuing his work to improve climate policy internationally. The dramatic turn of events makes the online premiere of The Island President all the more timely.

The 101-minute The Island President, directed by Jon Shenk, was produced by Richard Berge and Bonni Cohen, with Jon Else as executive producer, Pedro Kos, editor and Spencer Adler as co-producer. The film was financed 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.