Barnes Documentary Wowing Crowds

"The Art of the Steal" is the talk of the town in Toronto and New York

Don Argott, Philly filmmaker, received standing ovations from sold out audiences for his film "The Art of the Steal" at the Toronto International Film Festival.

It was even referred to as the best film shown there by one group of Canadian writers, according to the London Free Press in Ontario

At the New York Film Festival, it's the second fastest selling ticket.

So what's all the fuss about?

The story is about the controversy surrounding the move of the famous Barnes art collection from his home in Merion, Pa. to a replica in the city -- just five miles away.

The Barnes Foundation, founded by Albert C. Barnes in 1922, is home to one of the largest collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings in the world. The collection is estimated to be worth between $20 and $30 billion.

The move of the art is controversial for several reasons. First, is the argument over the move itself and whether it's necessary. Critics like the group, Friends of the Barnes Foundation, argue that it's not needed; that the collection already has a home and can sustain itself with modest support and good management. The argument in favor of the move is that the prized collection would be housed in the city's cultural center, attract more visitors and more readily raise the money it takes to properly care for the collection.

Second, it's expensive -- it could take more than $107 million in hard-earned tax dollars to move the Barnes collection, not to mention how much the building of the new facility would cost, according to the Friends of the Barnes Foundation.

What's more, critics say the move goes against Barnes' will and could potentially ruin the education program arm of the Barnes Foundation. As Steven Rea wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Argott lays out a persuasive case that a circle of Philadelphia movers and shakers ... orchestrated the Barnes' move from leafy Latchs Lane to new digs just blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art."

If you want to see for yourself, the movie will be shown on Sept. 29 at the New York Film Festival and a second screening was added on Oct. 6. Tickets are now on sale

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