Thoughts On: The President's Dilemma - Rising Tide


The President's Dilemma - Rising Tide

Quick Thoughts: The President's Dilemma (2010)

Made by James Heer, this is the Kiribatian film of the series.

The President's Dilemma is a short documentary that focuses on climate change in Kiribati - a remote selection of islands in the Pacific Ocean. Because of rising oceans, the predominantly flat, close-to-sea-level islands are under the threat of ruination and flood. It is estimated that the islands will be entirely drowned out and lost within the next 50-100 years. In the meanwhile, however, crops and water sources are being devastated by invading salt water as well as a lack of rain, making the island increasingly inhospitable. Juxtaposing terms such as 'president' and 'nation' - words we so often associate with large forces in the world - with such a precarious existence, this short documentary makes subtle use of some rather tragic irony to showcase a tangible and real effect of climate change that is, despite its palpability, overlooked and ignored by many nations. It is hearing of the president's failed attempts at calling for help that a question of responsibility is conveyored into, and then soon out of, the narrative. If this island did not start an industrial revolution, yet is  among the first to experience its environmental side-effects, whose responsibility is it to help the thousands of people on it? As said, this question, despite its pertinence, is brought into the narrative and then watched leave, not as a fault of the film itself, but due to the reality of the political situation; no countries seem to want to help the island nation. The president has then been left to find other ways of helping his people. Focusing not on saving his island, but slowly evacuating its people, securing their dignity, he has begun setting up schemes with other nations (Australia, New Zealand) to train workers and place them in working positions abroad. It is with this slow and controlled evacuation that, whilst the nation will eventually be lost, those living in it may go on.

In total, this is a fascinating documentary, short, to the point and subtly provocative. If you are interested, check it out here:

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