As Kim's Video Heads to Sicily, Questions Remain Unanswered.

by Eric Kohn
February 9, 2009 7:39 AM
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Sophia Hollander's article for The New York Times on the fate of the library from Kim's Video leaves me cold and wanting more information. It relies on several incomplete details about the curious arrangement made by founder Youngman Kim to transfer the entire collection to a small artists' enclave in Italy called Salemi. There's no explanation as to Kim's reasoning for rejecting the thirty-odd offers he received from New York institutions. And how much money does he get out of the agreement? The strange case of the Salemi deal appears to remain perpetually undefined, so it almost seems like running the story at this point is a bit premature. Why not wait until this so-called Neverending Film Festival kicks off? But I digress.

I do find one aspect of the story quite fascinating, if a bit backward: The way the Internet is portrayed as this twister-like villain that swept through society and destroyed the video rental business. It's not like the new technology came out of left field. Like our current economic situation, the impact of the web has been gradually encroaching on the industry for years. And that's fine! I would have loved to see Kim's collection go straight to Netflix, where the entire library could get digitized and made available via Watch Instantly. Or perhaps Kim could have raised money to do this himself on a personal site. Too ambitious? So is this Salemi nonesense.

Okay, theoretically, the plan to screen the entire library in a romantic village that has lived through more than two millenia sounds pretty damn cool. But only if Salemi provides a placeholder for the collection. That's why the key ingredient of the story lies here: "The team is also exploring the possibility of letting Kim’s members continue to 'rent” films,; either through mail order or, yes, Internet streaming." Yes, please.

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