The Island President (formerly Higher Ground)

His nation of 1,200 low-lying islands is sinking as sea levels rise. The Island President tells the story of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, a man confronting a problem greater than any other world leader has ever faced the literal survival of his country and everyone in it.

Island President is a dramatic feature documentary that lifts the issue of global warming out of the theoretical and into the personal. President Mohamed Nasheed is trying to save 385,000 people from drowning. His nation of 1,200 low-lying islands, the Maldives, is sinking into the Indian Ocean as sea levels rise due to global warming. Climate change experts say that some of the islands will be submerged within 20 years, threatening the lives of the largely impoverished inhabitants as well as inundating the lavish resorts that dot the islands. Nasheed's unprecedented contingency plan is to move his entire population to a new homeland. As he conducts serious discussions about this with Sri Lanka and Australia, Nasheed is doing all he can to prevent this looming disaster by trying to convince world leaders to halt global warming. This is the story of a complex and charismatic young leader who rose from the trenches of democratic activism to become head of state of the nation most urgently threatened by climate change. It is not a fight he chose, but he knows that, if you can't save the Maldives, you can't save anyone, and now stands on the front line, determined to force the world community to act. If you don't, you are condemning us to death. Twenty years ago Nasheed founded a democracy movement that took on Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, then the longest-ruling dictator in Asia. Over the years, Gayoom's regime arrested Nasheed twelve times and tortured him twice. At one point, he endured eighteen months in solitary confinement, and was forced to eat broken glass. Finally, last November, his years of struggle and sacrifice paid off when the movement he founded forced the government to hold a free and fair election. Now forty-two years old, the father of two young girls, and his Muslim nation's first democratically-elected president, Nasheed has woken up from this long political nightmare, only to face a crisis of vastly greater proportions. Experts predict that by 2030, many islands of the Maldives will be submerged, the lives of the largely impoverished inhabitants will be threatened, and some of the most beautiful ecosystems on the planet will vanish forever. For the Maldives, a nation of tropical coral islands just four feet above the sea, climate change isn't a vague and abstract danger but a real threat to our survival. It's a ticking time bomb, says Nasheed. But just as he inspired the people of the Maldives to press forward in their demand for democratic change, Nasheed refuses to give up in this epic, new fight. To have any chance of saving his country, this leader of a tiny, island nation has to convince the U.S., China, his closet ally, India, to cut carbon emissions dramatically and immediately. If he fails, he%u2019ll be forced to figure out where his children and grandchildren will live in the future.

Production team