film April 5, 2012 By Sophie Mollart

The film’s theatrical release is underscored by the dramatic turn of events on Feb. 7, when Nasheed was ousted from office in a violent military coup lead by forces loyal to Gayoom. “The transition to democracy from a dictatorship is very messy. There’s a lot of tentacles left over from the old days, including the judiciary, a lot of the judges were appointed by the former dictator. Nasheed’s feeling is that now that the genie has been let out of the bottle, in terms of good government and transparency, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, those are very difficult things to put back in. The people in control now are people that were specifically not elected. If I was living in that country I’d be like, wait a minute, I didn’t vote for you guys, and now you’ve taken the country back with guns. If there are elections, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s just that much more outcry from the population to move forward with the project that they’ve started.”

Despite British Prime Minister David Cameron having recently described Nasheed as his “new great friend” the international community has remained disappointingly, if predictably quiet. “Why hasn’t Cameron been more outspoken about this coup? I’d like to see more support for him internationally. When does the international community ever complain about dictatorships? The only time people ever seem to complain is when there’s something of national interest at stake. If there’s oil or something else that’s going to wake us up. It’s very difficult for a politician to gather support and have a backbone on these issues. Nasheed is hopeful about it – he’s a fighter. He’s a chess player, you know, it’s kind of symbolic of the way the thinks – okay, he lost that round, it doesn’t mean that he’s out of the game. He’s going to pivot, and figure out what he can do to keep moving forward. I think for whatever reason, he’s not a guy who gives up.”

The Island President opens this week at Film Forum.

1 2 3 4 5