The hope that infuses this movie makes it all the more upsetting to walk out of the theater and contemplate a looming disaster that the world's leaders seem unable to prevent.
A.O. Scott - New York Times
Shenk expertly weaves Nasheed's extraordinary personal story together with the Maldives' breathtaking natural beauty and a Capra-esque tale of dogged idealism and political courage to create wonderfully vivid cinematic portraiture.
Ann Hornaday - Washington Post
Shenk's film is close enough to his subject to catch the leader who rails against carbon-dioxide emissions puffing on cigarettes in parking lots.
Melissa Anderson - Village Voice
"The Island President" personalizes the threat of global warming, and nationalizes it too, by focusing on Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives.
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
[An] engaging, gorgeously photographed documentary.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Nasheed is indeed inspirational, a cool-headed but passionate and courageous guy. You end up wishing a lot more leaders were like this guy.
Tom Long - Detroit News
Viewers get an eye-opening look at behind-the-scenes wrangling.
V.A. Musetto - New York Post
The Island President is an important portrait of a determined man standing fast in a place where the ground is literally shifting beneath his feet.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
A portrait of defiant optimism as a last-chance means of survival, Jon Shenk's The Island President offers not only a Mandela-like tale of political heroism but a much-needed perspective on climate change.
John DeFore - Hollywood Reporter
"The Island President"is heartening and unsettling by turns.
Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times
One only hopes that the documentary will help advance Nasheed's mission and inspire others to join arms out of shared ecological concern.
Nathan Southern - TV Guide's Movie Guide
A fascinating look at an extraordinary personality.
Radheyan Simonpillai - NOW Toronto
The haunting "How to Disappear Completely" plays over the closing credits. If Nasheed isn't able to wake up the world to his country's plight, in a few decades, that could be the new Maldives national anthem.
Rob Thomas - Capital Times (Madison, WI)
If you are in a fight, you want this man on your side. He is charismatic, brave and most of all entirely believes in what he is what he is doing. I'm not sure he know the meaning of the word compromise.
Louise Gray - Daily Telegraph
Climate-change documentaries are almost always disturbing, but "The Island President" communicates a special urgency.
John Hartl - Seattle Times
As an insight into the cynical nature of world politics, The Island President is wonky but fascinating stuff ... But as a testament to mankind's willingness to change... it's deeply dispiriting.
Jeff Meyers - Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
The film clearly sides with Nasheed's David as he battles Goliath-like businesses and governments, but it never loses sight of the fact that his efforts to preserve the fragile beauty of the sinking Maldives may already be doomed.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
Shenk's tight storytelling makes for a gripping film that delivers the ugly, at times ennobling, truth.
Alison Gang - San Diego Union-Tribune
A socially engaged documentary with more heart than head, this slice of boosterism focusing on the exiled Maldives president achieves unexpected ancillary connection as a ground-floor look at a grand clash of political and governmental wills.
Brent Simon - Shockya.com
An absorbing portrait of a man trying to turn a tide of indifference.
What makes Nasheed's whirligig tactics so urgent is that, unlike most other countries participating in the summit, his own nation is actually in danger of being annihilated by climate change.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
Primary meets environmental documentary. A must-see now that political strife has forced the film's subject, President Mohamed Nasheed, to resign.
Sarah Sluis - Film Journal International
Nasheed is a fascinating man with grand ideas that stand in direct contrast to his appearance.
Rob Hunter - Film School Rejects
Shenk gets almost unfettered acccess to Nasheed, who is refreshingly honest about the tactics he is employing to get other countries onside
Amber Wilkinson - Eye for Film
It's a gut punch to every single person who has come to the wholly depressing conclusion that the world our grandparents enjoyed may not exist for our children.
Phil Contrino - Boxoffice Magazine
A message in favor of the environment from someone who really means it.
Ron Wilkinson - Monsters and Critics
The Island President should be commended for offering a stark reminder that, while the world's great nations turned their attentions to economics, the waters continued to rise.
Donald Clarke - Irish Times
Those who learn of his and his country's plight through Shenk's smartly crafted film can't help but sit up and pay attention to the course of his career, the fate of Maldives and the threat of global warming.
Annlee Ellingson - Paste Magazine
What just might be the scariest movie of the year doesn't feature skyscraper-crushing robots or species-annihilating bacteria.
Chris Barsanti - Filmcritic.com
"The Island President" is a mostly compelling documentary about that rarest of breeds, an appealing politician.
Walter V. Addiego - San Francisco Chronicle
Shenk would have been better off spending time with the people at risk of flooding rather than filming the diplomats in their suits at the Copenhagen Climate Summit.
Alex Zane - Sun Online
Drew Taylor - The Playlist
Shenk draws on archive material to chronicle Nasheed's courageous battle against longtime dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, but it's the unprecedented access he has to his subject that makes this movie so revealing and compelling.
David Parkinson - Radio Times
Ex-Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed comes across in this documentary as a kind of climate-change Prospero.
Sure it's hagiographic, but this is environmentalist filmmaking at its best.
Tom Seymour - Little White Lies
[M]akes climate change dramatic, political, personal, and the right stuff of leadership. . . The film would seem hagiographic if his biography weren't so stirring.
Nora Lee Mandel - Film-Forward.com
Recent events give the documentary The Island President both an urgency and a poignancy.
Marshall Fine - Hollywood & Fine
What's fascinating and frustrating about The Island President is how it reveals international politics to be even more polarized and mired in bureaucracy than local politics.
Noel Murray - AV Club
Void of graphics and animation, focus is on Nasheed in 'this David and Goliath tale for the literal survival of his country.'
Donald J. Levit - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
It's fascinating to be so close to a then-sitting head of state as he negotiates for his homeland's survival, and the news that Nasheed was recently deposed in a coup by Gayoom loyalists makes the hard-won victories he did secure all the more poignant.
Keith Uhlich - Time Out
Moves swiftly from political scene-setting to follow Nasheed's every move as he prepares to make an impassioned environmental plea at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit.
Derek Adams - Time Out
The film shares Mohamed Nasheed's pessimism, but it's also able to celebrate that wonderfully stubborn individual's constant need to fight on regardless of the eventual result.
Andrew Schenker - Slant Magazine
An imperative issue film inside of a phenomenally appealing human interest piece that is equal parts individually intimate and internationally substantial.
Christopher Campbell - Movies.com
Nigel Andrews - Financial Times
Despite its tendency to blame India and China more than the wealthy Western nations for the Copenhagen climate change fiasco, the documentary is a solid examination of the truly catastrophic implications of uncontrolled greenhouse gases.
Louis Proyect - rec.arts.movies.reviews
Nasheed may be a small fish in a big geopolitical pond, but his enterprise and optimism are a welcome complement to eco doc doom and gloom.
Sam Wigley - Total Film
The film emphasizes Mohamed Nasheed's recent stardom on the world stage, with the background note that he and others fought for 20 years to secure democracy in the Maldives.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters