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In this hard-hitting but humorous documentary, director Jamie Johnson takes the exploration of wealth that he began in Born Rich one step further. The title, The One Percent, refers to the tiny percentage of Americans who control nearly half the wealth of the U.S. Johnson’s thesis is that this wealth in the hands of so few people is a danger to our very way of life. Johnson captures his story through personal interviews with Robert Reich, Adnan Khashoggi, Bill Gates Sr., and Steve Forbes, during which both Johnson’s and his subjects’ knowledge and humor shine. And he’s not afraid to butt heads with Milton Friedman, the economist who coined the term “the trickledown effect.” He also shows how the other half lives, using real-world examples of the wealth gap: he takes a tour of a dilapidated housing project in Chicago, rides around with an enlightened taxi driver, and sees the human toll of the unfair economics of the Florida sugar industry. Johnson’s film is at its most powerful when it reveals how the super-rich work to preserve their own monetary dominance. As a member of the “Johnson & Johnson” family, he gets rare access to an exclusive wealth conference at which the über rich learn strategies for preserving their fortunes, and learns the personal management styles of some of the countries wealthiest employers. No great society has survived such a massive wealth gap; who knows if ours will?
The One Percent is Jamie Johnson's second feature documentary. His first, Born Rich, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was purchased by HBO, and went on to receive two Emmy Award™ nominations in 2003.