Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Review: 'The List'

April 29, 2013 1:32 a.m.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews "The List."

Related Story: Review: 'The List'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: The International Rescue Committee provides support to refugees forced to flee from war and disaster. One way they raise funds and help spread the word about humanitarian crises is through their Annual International Documentary Film Series. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has this review of “The List,” which screens tonight at Landmark’s La Jolla Village Cinemas.

Kirk Johnson has been called a modern day Oskar Schindler. He works to save Iraqis whose lives were put in danger because of their affiliation with the Americans after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. But in the documentary “The List,” Johnson comes across more like Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. ” He’s a genuinely decent and idealistic man who sees injustice and fights as hard as he can to make a difference even if the obstacles seem immense and the government he has put his faith in seems indifferent.

IRAQDOC 1A (:11)
KIRK JOHNSON:I didn’t feel I could ethically justify sitting out the reconstruction. I also felt a compulsion to go because I felt where my country had made an error in invading I could at least try to ameliorate that or work to make at least some part of it better.

After leading reconstruction teams in Iraq, Johnson came home to find that many of his former Iraqi colleagues were being subjected to terrorist reprisals. His frustration with the U.S. government’s indifference to the jeopardy it had put its Iraqi allies in is summed up by Congressman Gary Ackerman in the film.

IRAQDOC 1B (:11)
GARY ACKERMAN: If the world’s only super power cannot protect them against the crisis we have put them in then we’ve made a bigger mistake than I ever thought.

Beth Murphy’s documentary shines light on the problem and on Johnson’s efforts to change things. Johnson began compiling a list of names of Iraqis in need of help. He then organized a team of lawyers to get these people out of harm’s way and on their way to the U.S. It’s a compelling story that has not gotten the media attention it deserves. Johnson will be at the screening tonight at 7pm for a post film discussion.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.