×

The List

The Lord High Executioner in Gilbert & Sullivan's "Mikado" gloats about his "little list" of future victims, but Kirk Johnson totes around a bigger one in "The List" -- several huge binders' worth.

With:
With: Kirk Johnson, Yaghdan, Anna, Ibrahim. (English, Arabic dialogue)

The Lord High Executioner in Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Mikado” gloats about his “little list” of future victims, but Kirk Johnson totes around a bigger one in “The List” — several huge binders’ worth. On it are names, credentials, commendations and profiles of Iraqis whose faithful service on behalf of various U.S. forces and agencies have exposed them and their families to terrorist reprisals. Though the pic traces Oskar Schindler-esque heroic actions by a lone American in a fight for justice, its effectiveness stems equally from the autonomy it grants its Iraqi protagonists. Strong docu should hit theaters prior to smallscreen play.

While opposed in principle to the invasion of Iraq, Johnson felt his extensive knowledge of Islamic culture and fluency in Arabic compelled him to join the reconstruction efforts then under way. But his mission shifted when an email from Yaghdan, an Iraqi friend and fellow worker, told of threatened reprisals for his aid to Americans. The email, which Johnson posted on the Internet, precipitated a flood of cries for help from people in similar straits. Helmer Beth Murphy even includes extremists’ videos showing bloody executions of such “traitors” to emphasize the immediacy of the danger.

Johnson managed to amass a roomful of pro bono lawyers willing to shepherd Iraqis through the labyrinthine red tape that the Patriot Act added to already stringent immigration laws. Although thousands of Iraqis gained access to the U.S., few were on Johnson’s list. Murphy shows Johnson testifying before Congressional committees about the government’s moral obligation to save those who risked their lives to help the U.S. Some representatives express appropriate shock and outrage, but accomplish nothing concrete.

Helmer Murphy closely follows several listees who made it out of Iraq. Yaghdan and his brood, shown meeting several times with Johnson in Baghdad, were warmly welcomed by him upon deplaning and invited to stay at his parents’ Midwestern home. Murphy also catches up with Ibrahim, who became Johnson’s right-hand man when he finally reached America, testifying before Congress and assisting others in their quest to escape Iraqi retaliation.

Murphy’s previous docu, “Beyond Belief,” similarly featured a cross-cultural dual focus, as two American women widowed by 9/11 travel to Afghanistan to help war widows there. While that film opened with the wives’ reactions to their loss, it’s not until late in “The List” that Murphy introduces Johnson’s hitherto unsuspected trauma, as he admits that his decision to aid Iraqis came from his inability to get beyond his own experiences there.

Ending in neither triumph nor defeat, “The List” celebrates the determined efforts of a sole American to effectuate a rescue that should seem a no-brainer.

The List

Production: A Goldcrest Films presentation of a Principle Pictures production in co-production with ITVS in association with Chicken & Egg Pictures. Produced by Beth Murphy, Sean Flynn. Executive producers, Charles Sennott, Nick Quested. Directed by Beth Murphy.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Kevin Belli; editor, Belli; music, John Califra; associate producers, Beth Balaban, Alyssa Gantz, Nathan Tisdale. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Center, New York, April 5, 2012. (In Tribeca Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 82 MIN.

With: With: Kirk Johnson, Yaghdan, Anna, Ibrahim. (English, Arabic dialogue)

More Film

  • Pinewood Studios James Bond

    Netflix's Shepperton Studios Deal Is Stretching the U.K.'s Production Limits

    Netflix’s huge new hub at Shepperton Studios outside London is a further fillip for Britain’s booming production sector. Amid jitters over Brexit and its effects on the economy, the streaming giant’s commitment is a vote of confidence in the U.K. entertainment industry and a continuing source of local jobs. But the decision by Netflix to [...]

  • Bottom of the 9th

    Film Review: ‘Bottom of the 9th’

    Nearly two decades after scoring an audience award at Sundance for “Two Family House,” a smartly understated yet deeply affecting indie about a Staten Island factory worker who deeply regrets stifling his showbiz ambitions, director Raymond De Felitta steps back up to the plate with “Bottom of the 9th,” another dramatically solid and emotionally satisfying [...]

  • THE BRIDGE - "Calaca" - Episode

    Endemol Shine Builds ‘The Bridge’ in Africa (EXCLUSIVE)

    DURBAN–Endemol Shine Group has sold the rights to adapt its critically acclaimed and highly popular Nordic Noir detective series “The Bridge” to Cape Town-based production company Both Worlds Pictures, Variety has learned exclusively. The series will feature an all-African cast and will be set around the Beit Bridge border crossing between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Originally known [...]

  • Durban Film Fest 2019

    Durban Fest Hails Film as ‘Conscience of Our Nation’

    DURBAN–When Ros and Teddy Sarkin raised the curtain on the first Durban Intl. Film Festival 40 years ago, the odds were long that their scrappy fest would survive its inaugural edition. The apartheid government and its draconian censorship board had a stranglehold on the films that reached South African theaters, banning the sorts of subversive [...]

  • Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell

    Film Review: 'Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell'

    “Streetwise,”  the classic and haunting 1984 documentary about homeless street kids in Seattle, is a movie that’s now 35 years old. But for anyone who has seen it, the children it’s about — drifters, hustlers, squatters, thieves, prostitutes — remain frozen in time. And none of them was ever more memorable than Tiny, the 14-year-old [...]

  • Animation Studio Fire

    Revenge Motive May Have Sparked Kyoto Animation Arson Attack

    Japanese media is speculating that revenge was the motivation for the arson attack on Kyoto Animation which killed 33 people on Thursday. Investigative sources quoted by Jiji Press on Friday said that the man in custody had a grudge against the studio. “Since [the studio] stole my novel, I poured out the liquid and set [...]

  • Terminator: Dark Fate Gabriel Luna

    'Terminator: Dark Fate' Cast Proud of Latinx Representation in Latest Installment

    The stars of the Tim Miller-directed “Terminator: Dark Fate” stormed the stage of San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H on Thursday, but it wasn’t until after the panel — which included appearances from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton — that Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna and Diego Boneta reflected on what makes the upcoming installment in the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content