Sundance 2023 Review: Kim’s Video

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A playful blend of fact and fantasy, David Redmon and Ashley Sabin’s documentary Kim’s Video will speak loudly and proudly to cinephiles and physical media enthusiasts. It’s a tad overcooked, but always charming.

Redmon sets out to unravel a unique, niche mystery revolving around the beloved, seminal New York City video store chain, Kim’s Video, founded and operated by enigmatic Korena-American entrepreneur (and part time filmmaker) Yongman Kim. When the last of the chain’s locations closed up shop in 2014, Kim sought to have the store’s immense library of 55,000 titles – including plenty of rare (often bootlegged and endlessly duped) films and curiosities from around the world – preserved for generations to come. In an unusual twist, the library of tapes and DVDs ended up in a small town in Sicily that wanted to use the collection as a tourist attraction. But shortly after arriving in Italy, no one heard anything concrete about opening up the collection to the public. Redmon, a once avid renter at Kim’s Video, looks to investigate why the collection has gone dormant and become so closely guarded.

Kim’s Video is a loving ode to the various ways that art influences life. Redmon fancies himself as a sort of citizen journalist who sees parallels to his favourite movies at every turn and twist in his quest. Sometimes, Kim’s Video is trying to be too many different things at once: an essay/clip show made by a movie junkie, a straightforward talking head documentary featuring interviews with former clerks (Sean Price Williams, Alex Ross Perry) and customers (David Wain), a true crime potboiler, and a piece of speculative fiction that deliberately bends the facts towards the end. It never fully comes together, but the overall spirit and the complexity of the mystery behind the tape library and attempts over the years to reclaim it are quite likeable.

Kim’s Video screened as part of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

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