One part adventure film and one part heist movie, KIM’S VIDEO is a breezy and entertaining documentary.
Being a former Blockbuster Video manager, easily one of my most anticipated films going into Sundance this year was David Redmon and Ashley Sabin’s documentary on the search for the contents of one of Manhattan’s most iconic video stores: Kim’s Video.
When the store closed its doors, owner Kim Yongman, after entertaining numerous proposals, donated the collection of 50,000 movies from its remaining location to a small town in Italy. One of the contingencies of the donation was that the collection not only be digitized, but made available to any member of Kim’s Video from back in New York. As the film begins, after documenting his own love of cinema and how he developed his appreciation of physical media thanks to Kim’s, Redmon, drunk on nostalgia for a time now gone, decides to make a pilgrimage to Salemi, Italy to visit the collection.
Supplemented by film clips, Redmon and Sabin use this cinephile shorthand to punctuate not only a litany of equally engrossing rabbit holes, but Redmon’s own journey to uncover the fate of the collection, further blurring the line between real life and the movies. Of course there’s the talking heads, but the film thankfully doesn’t rely on pontificating film nerds to tell this story. David finds that the truth may be more entertaining than any film when he lands in Italy and no one knows where the Kim’s Video collection is. Who were these people who were supposed to be the collection’s caretakers? How did they get the collection? And who is the enigmatic man who started it all, the Korean immigrant turned filmmaker Kim Yongman? Even somewhat knowing the story going in, I was surprised at how much the documentary uncovers.
There’s been a litany of documnetaries recently about physical media; what set’s Kim’s Video apart is Redmon and Sabin’s voices and their lighthearted approach to the story. The directors balance their nostalgia and the web they are weaving before us, making this documentary feel fresh and a bit more engaging than most deep dives on physical media. Redmon and Sabin also steer clear of some of the more overused movie clips when it comes to this subject, instead digging deeper and pulling from lesser-seen films.
One part love letter to physical media, one part adventure film, and one part heist movie, Kim’s Video is a breezy and entertaining documentary that is as much story as it is a celebration.