Phil Klein is a natural-born documentary maker. I have seen him for years at public meetings and other news events. He usually has a movie camera up to his eye. He must have tens of thousands of feet of video of transportation activist Clay Chastain, who Klein at one time intended to immortalize in a documentary film to be called, “Citizen Clay.”
But Chastain wasn’t the only focus of Klein’s documentary projects. Klein, who owns a magic shop, has finally finished one of his documentaries and gotten it into theaters. It is “Begging for Billionaires: The Attack on Property Rights in America,” which will make its Kansas City debut at the Kansas International Film Festival. There will be a single, public screening at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Glenwood Arts Theater.
This is certainly not a review of “Begging for Billionaires ,” but a press release states, “The KC scenes depict family-owned businesses displaced by the controversial land grabs to clear space for Sprint Arena (still without a permanent tenant) and the privately-owned Power & Light District.”
Personally, I was glad to see it when Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes and the City Council built the Sprint Center and pushed through the Power & Light District as centerpieces for revitalization of our moribund downtown. But I also know that eminent domain can be abused.
Klein’s documentary makes the case against eminent domain, and how well Klein tells the story will no doubt determine how well “Begging for Billionaires” fares at the Kansas International Film Festival. Incidentally, a week-long run at the Leawood Theater is the prize in the documentary competition at the film festival.