Kahn/Barr race on silver screen?

Documentary goes behind the scenes of Kahn's failed campaign

Local filmmaker Christopher McKool realized he was on to something big after a conversation with acclaimed director Rob Reiner.

"I told him I was making a documentary about a congressional race in Georgia," McKool says. "He immediately said, 'It's not about Bob Barr's race, is it?' "

Indeed it is. For nine months, McKool and his camera followed millionaire Roger Kahn as he tried to upset Republican incumbent Bob Barr for the 7th District congressional seat.

Battle to Serve was originally conceived as a behind-the-scenes look at one of the country's most bitter election battles, which pitted Kahn, a millionaire businessman, against Barr, one of the House's most unabashed conservatives.

But Barr refused any interviews or access, likely worried he wouldn't be given a fair shake. After all, it was Kahn who financed the $200,000 documentary. The result is a film that's unavoidably lopsided at times. The only time we see Barr is during radio and TV debates with Kahn.

Still, the film gives candid insight into Kahn's campaign, catching the candidate and his staffers plotting strategy and dealing with Kahn's occasional gaffes.

"I think it takes a look at a couple of the strategic errors made in [Kahn's] campaign," says McKool, who wrote, directed and produced the film.

McKool, a 1997 journalism graduate from UGA, says about 15 film festivals around the country have invited him to submit the 58-minute documentary. The true test will come when they decide whether to screen it at their festivals.

The Barr-Kahn battle was the nation's fifth most expensive congressional race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Together, the two candidates spent $7.4 million, with Barr spending $3.5 million and Kahn spending $3.9 million ($2.9 million of which came out of Kahn's own pocket).

Barr wound up defeating Kahn, capturing 55.3 percent of the vote to Kahn's 44.7 percent.

McKool's documentary will premiere in Cobb County, the only county in the district that Kahn won, at the Parkway Pointe Theater, 3101 Cobb Parkway, in Marietta, at 8 p.m. on April 24.??