Iraqis under threat, Indian women in focus at Tribeca

Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:11pm EDT
 
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Iraqis living in danger after working with U.S. troops and diplomats and an examination of women in modern India are two subjects grabbing the attention of critics and audiences among documentaries showing at the Tribeca Film Festival this week.

Both films are part of a lineup of 32 documentaries at the New York festival, which runs through Sunday, that tell true tales from inside and outside the United States. Documentaries, which have become more stylized in recent years with inexpensive hi-tech cameras, have traditionally been a strength at Tribeca. This year is no exception, and many of these non-fiction movies will be seen in theaters and on TV throughout 2012.

"The List" tells of American Kirk Johnson's fight to save U.S.-allied Iraqis who are at risk of being kidnapped and killed by militants that have marked them as traitors. The film argues that the Iraqis are trapped in bureaucratic red tape while waiting years for U.S. visas.

"He is an American hero, he represents what America thinks it is and wants to be overseas but is really not who we have been," director Beth Murphy told Reuters about Johnson. Murphy spent four years making the film and shooting footage in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the United States.

Johnson helped reconstruction efforts in Iraq, but returned to the United States and unexpectedly suffered post traumatic stress disorder, leading to a fall from a second floor window.

Since then, he has been lobbying politicians and compiling a thick dossier, known as "The List," of thousands of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis still waiting for visas, many of whom were forced to flee to surrounding countries.

Top U.S. diplomats are shown in the film delaying aid and testifying in Washington that they don't know how many Iraqis who worked for them are under constant threat.

For his work, Johnson, 32, has been labeled a modern-day Oskar Schindler -- a German who helped save Jews during World War Two by keeping them working in his factories. His story was the focus of Steven Spielberg's film "Schindler's List."   Continued...