Before streaming platforms took over home entertainment, there was Kim’s Video, a legendary video rental store in New York City. With over 55,000 favorite and rare movies to choose from, the Kim’s Video flagship store in St. Mark’s Place was a must-see for not just cinephiles, but anyone who loves to watch movies. The knowledgeable clerks can be intimidating, but being able to access the huge collection of films was worth the shout out for not knowing enough about Hungarian cinema. The store was a magnet for big-name filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers. Then, in 2008, faced with a changing industry, Kim’s Video founder, Youngman Kim, offered to keep his collection intact and make it available to Kim’s video members. Not long after, the archive found a new home in the small Italian village of Salemi in Sicily, before collecting all late fees from customers including Joel Coen. In August 2016, filmmaker David Redmon, who credits Kim’s videos with his film education, embarked on a journey to visit and eventually liberate the film’s legendary collection. That mission is the subject of “Kim’s Video.” “Kim’s Video,” executive produced by Fremantle and directed by Redmon and Ashley Sabin, will open the next section of the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 19.
You spent six years making this documentary. What keeps you going?
Redmon: It was the ghost of the movie that took us six years to make the movie. When I entered Kim’s video collection [n Sicily], Sinema told me they wanted to go home. They needed to be touched. They wanted to see. They wanted to hear it again. They asked me, “Can you help?” And I promised the films that I would go back one day and help. They helped me, so I was going to help them. Eventually the objective of moving the collection becomes the primary objective and then the movie revolves around that objective.
What do you mean when you say movies have helped you?
Sabin: Those movies really helped shape our film voice. We didn’t go to film school and so we jumped into that collection almost every night. So it does not suit us to see the collection in Salem in the state it was in and do nothing about it.
Redmon: It was painful.
In the document, you include numerous movie clips. Can this film be without fair use?
Sabin: These clips are so important because it’s a movie about movies. So, it was really hard to make [doc] Without a film clip on it.
Do you consider this a niche doc for niche audiences?
Sabin: This is a film about someone who has lost something and is trying to find it.
You are looking to deliver. Am I right in assuming that you are aiming for a theater run?
Redmon: Yes. We want to do a theatrical run and then we want to make a fictional film based on the making of this movie. That is our next goal. We want to write a book. We want to make a play. We want online. We want education [sales]. We want it all. I mean, who doesn’t?