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For practically 30 years, Kim’s Video and Music, throughout 5 downtown areas, was a haven for NYC film lovers providing a trove of 55,000 usually uncommon, in any other case unfindable titles.

After the most well-known location, Mondo Kim’s on St. Marks Place in the East Village closed in early 2009, the large assortment went on a wild journey all the way to Sicily, and even grew to become tied to the mafia earlier than lastly making its means again to New York final yr.

While filming his new documentary “Kim’s Video,” which lately premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, director David Redmon ventured to Italy on a quest to uncover what actually occurred to the iconic stock. 

It’s a narrative straight out of a film.

Kim’s Video began out modestly in 1987 by Yongman Kim as a VHS-tape rental shelf in a nook of his dry-cleaning store put up to make some further money. Soon, the rental enterprise was eclipsing the pressed shirts, so he expanded to a full video and music store on Avenue A, and shortly grew to become recognized for curating esoteric titles. 

Yongman Kim's video store empire had five downtown locations.
Yongman Kim’s video store empire had 5 downtown areas.
Elizabeth Lippman for NY Post

“Stepping foot into this video store was, ‘Wow. I’m entering into the goldmine of cool,’ ” mentioned David Wain, director of “Wet Hot American Summer” and a former Kim’s Video member.

Eventually, Kim’s amassed greater than 250,000 members, and to hold his choices daring and recent, he would ship staff to far-flung worldwide movie festivals to safe unreleased films. Sometimes, he’d get VHS tapes from overseas embassies in New York, make a duplicate, and stick it on his shelf.

The FBI and native authorities repeatedly raided Kim’s in the aughts, accusing the store of piracy.

“The counter was proper in entrance of the racks of bootleg VHS tapes, and we’d watch these guys in fits take out these baggage and filter rows and rows of VHS tapes,” former worker Ryan Krivoshey says in the doc.

Kim's Video at 6 Saint Mark Place boast 55,000 titles for rent.
Kim’s Video at 6 St. Marks Place, which closed in 2012, boasted 55,000 uncommon titles for lease.
J.C. Rice For NY Post

Kim would come again every week later, with new copies of the confiscated films in tow, and put them proper again the place they have been.

Due to the rise of streaming services like Netflix, Kim ultimately closed his final store on First Avenue in 2014. Famed administrators the Coen brothers allegedly had a $600 late payment, which was by no means paid.

Back when he was closing his St. Marks flagship, Kim sought to unload the hundreds of movies to an individual or entity who met particular standards: that that they had at the least 3,000 sq. ft of house, allowed Kim’s Video members entry to the movies and saved the assortment in good situation.

Oddly, Kim picked the city of Salemi, Sicily. 

Kim gave away his video collection to the town of Salemi, Sicily.
Yongman Kim gave away his video assortment to the city of Salemi, Sicily.
Franco Lannino/EPA/Shutterstock

Kim was dismayed that Salemi was mistreating his movies, and not making them accessible to the public.
Kim was dismayed that Salemi was mistreating his films, and never making them accessible to the public.
Franco Lannino/EPA/Shutterstock

“How may anyone suppose for a second that sending this complete factor to one other nation — though they are saying, ‘Well, any members who walks in the door is welcome to entry the assortment? What on earth may somebody have been pondering that this to them made extra sense than NYU saying, ‘We will take it?’ ” says an worker. “As legend has it, these have been the choices he was confronted with.”

The worker’s considerations have been appropriate. When Redmon traveled to Salemi greater than a decade later, he found that the room housing Kim’s Video — locals name it “Centro Kim” — was inaccessible to the public, in poor form and crammed with film-damaging moisture. A promised digitization of the assortment by no means occurred.

Mayor Vittorio Sgarbi had initially angled for Kim’s movies in hopes of turning Salemi, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1968, into an artist colony. But the politician and artwork critic, who later grew to become the right-hand man of President Silvio Berlusconi, was faraway from energy in Salemi for allegedly permitting the mafia to infiltrate his cupboard. Kim’s obtained caught up in the corruption.

A postcard from Salemi.
An image of the facility in Sicily that housed Kim’s Video, which the locals referred to as “Centro Kim.”
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Journalist Marco Bova says in the doc that the accused authorities mafioso, Pino Giammarinaro, “managed an enormous finances of 800,000 euros that was supposed to finance completely different initiatives, not solely the digitization of [Kim’s] assortment. [Yet] solely 30,000 euros have been spent with out producing something.” 

Appalled by what he noticed, Redmon tracked down Kim, who nonetheless owns a house in New Jersey, to Seoul, South Korea, and knowledgeable him of what had occurred.

“That half, I’m slightly remorse[ful],” Kim says. “Because Sgarbi was an subject, a authorized subject there. A legal subject.” 

So, Kim visited Salemi and expressed his dismay.

“I’m very unhappy that it’s not correctly saved, and it’s not correctly managed,” he says, including that they have been “not utilizing it for the public and the folks.”

The East Village site where Kim's Video was until 2012 is now a Barcade.
The East Village website the place Kim’s Video was till 2012 is now a Barcade.
J.C. Rice for NY Post

Shockingly, Redmon then stole the tapes in the darkish of night time — below the guise of utilizing the facility to make a brief movie — and shipped them again this previous April to New York to the Alamo Drafthouse in decrease Manhattan, where some 20,000 are now available to rent without cost.

Redmon and Kim negotiated with spurned Salemi and agreed to a couple of situations to keep away from retaliation, together with giving a number of members of the authorities an all-expenses-paid journey to NYC the place Kim would thank the city throughout a press convention, and promoting Salemi tourism at the new brick-and-mortar Kim’s Video downtown.

“Salemi contacted me and wished to know what occurred to the films,” Redmon mentioned in the doc. “I informed them, as a former member of Kim’s Video, I simply checked out a couple of films for my buddies.”

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