The List

The List

Directed by: Beth Murphy
82 minutes

New England Premiere

The fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime under the US/coalition invasion of 2003 gave birth to great feelings of hope among many Iraqi citizens: hope for peace, renewal, and self-determination. Many were eager to join forces with American workers in rebuilding the nation—and calls for their help were everywhere. Not until early 2004, when Iraqi insurgents massacred a group of Blackwater contractors in Fallujah, did the world truly understand the extent of the currents of hostility and unrest in the region. Hope turned to terror as thousands upon thousands of civilians who had cooperated with Americans realized that they and their families were now targets of the insurgency. Many believed their newfound US friends and colleagues would usher them to safety, but they were wrong.

The titular list is maintained by Kirk Johnson, who spent a year working with USAID in Iraq. After receiving an email from a former colleague whose life had been threatened, Kirk found that his name was being rapidly circulated in Iraq as that of a sympathetic American who might be able to help. Feeling a profound need to make up for his country’s broken obligations, he began compiling the names of those in peril, launching an immeasurable initiative to lobby the US government and shepherd as many of these people to American soil as possible.

Director Beth Murphy shines a light on the tragically underreported dangers faced by America’s forgotten supporters, and on Kirk’s own stunningly selfless work.

—Sandra L. Frey