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Kino Lorber Takes Worldwide Rights to a Classic MLK Documentary

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire January 13, 2012 at 12:56PM

Kino Lorber has acquired worldwide rights to the documentary portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis."
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"King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis."
"King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis."

Kino Lorber has acquired worldwide rights to the documentary portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis."

The film was nominated for the Academy Award in 1970 and has been on the Library of Congress's National Film Registry of significant films since 1999. Kino Lorber will hold special theatrical engagements of the film this spring and will then target the VOD and, through its Kino Lorber Edu arm, educational markets.

The film, a compilation of footage of the civil rights leader also features readings co-directed by Sydney Lumet and Joseph L. Mankiewicz by actors like Ruby Dee, James Earl Jones, Ben Gazzara, and Harry Belafonte.

The complete press release follows:

Kino Lorber, Inc. is proud to announce the acquisition of all worldwide rights to the acclaimed and seminal documentary KING: A FILMED RECORD … MONTGOMERY TO MEMPHIS (1970). 

Produced for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation by Ely Landau (The American Film Theater collection), KING is an epic document of the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., from the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott to his assassination in 1968. 

Both a historiography of the non-violent, civil rights movement and a portrait of the movement’s inspiring leader, KING is comprised of original footage captured during those turbulent years. “The events are allowed to speak for themselves,” wrote The New York Times’ Ellen Holly. “The roar of police motorcycles, bombs, burning crosses, ambulances, gospel, shouts, the massed crowds before the Lincoln Memorial at the 1963 March on Washington, and, most thrilling of all, the speeches of the man himself.” 

Without any voice-over narration, KING uses contemporary film/newsreel and video/television footage to brilliantly convey the boiling indignation of an oppressed people and their revolutionary organizing. Juxtaposed over this footage are dramatic readings by actors Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee, Ben Gazzara, Charlton Heston, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman, Anthony Quinn, Clarence Williams III and Joanne Woodward.  These sections were co-directed by Sydney Lumet and Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

KING was nominated for the an Academy Award (in the Best Documentary category) in 1970, also being deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress in 1999 and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

This deal was negotiated between Kino Lorber CEO & President Richard Lorber and Richard Kaplan, the Academy Award-winning director (The Eleanor Roosevelt Story) who served as Associate Producer on KING. 

Following a series of special theatrical bookings throughout the country, Kino Lorber will release KING to the educational market via its educational division, Kino Lorber Edu – before making it available to other platforms, such as the DVD market and VOD channels. Kaplan's company, A Filmed Record, has helped to create a new 35mm print restored from the archival elements of the original held at The Library of Congress. Kino Lorber will create a new HD master for the film’s Blu-ray release from this new print.

‘KING: A FILMED RECORD is a rare record of history in action that captures the momentum of the Civil Rights movement and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” says Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber. “It is arguably the definitive film about one of the seminal movements (and political leaders) of 20th Century history.”

“Kino Lorber will make KING more widely available to a whole new generation of viewers,” said Richard Kaplan, President of A Filmed Record and Associate Producer of the original film. “I am pleased to have it join the distinguished films in the Kino Lorber collection.” Over 30 years ago, Richard and I worked together to distribute KING both to TV and the educational market. I look forward to working with him once again.”  

KING: A FILMED RECORD … MONTGOMERY TO MEMPHIS (1970) premiered as a special “one-time-only event” on March 24, 1970 in over 600 theaters throughout the United States. The film, three hours in length, was billed as “An Evening in Tribute to Martin Luther King.”

A critical success, KING was nominated in 1970 for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Feature category, and raised over three million dollars for the benefit of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Special Fund. A shorter version of the film was subsequently made available to TV stations across the globe, but the original, unedited, three-hour version of the film, has rarely been shown in recent years.

This article is related to: Acquisitions, Kino Lorber





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