Kino International president and Kino Lorber co-president Donald Krim died May 20 at his New York home after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 65.
Among the directors Krim brought to American audiences were Wong Kar-Wai ("Happy Together"), Michael Haneke ("The Piano Teacher"), Amos Gitai ("Kadosh"), Aki Kaurismäki ("The Match Factory Girl"), Julie Dash ("Daughters of the Dust") and Andrei Zvyagintsev ("The Return").
After receiving undergraduate and law degrees from Columbia University, Krim began his career at United Artists heading the 16mm nontheatrical film rental division. His friend Bill Pence at Janus Films, which held rights to classics like Fritz Lang's "M," Federico Fellini's "La Strada" and Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon," founded Kino International in 1976. A year later, Krim purchased the company.
As Krim told DVD Talk in 2002, "Within a few months of taking over Kino, we made a deal to handle the Chaplin films, like 'Modern Times' and 'The Great Dictator.' [Our rights were for] theatrical. We weren't getting home video, which was just in its beginning, and television. Then we took on the Selznick films, including [Alfred Hitchcock's] 'Rebecca' and 'Notorious.' The next year we took over the Alexander Korda library, including 'Thief of Bagdad.'"
Kino began releasing new foreign films in 1979, starting with Masahiro Shinoda's "The Battle of Orin." The company's titles also included Shôhei Imamura's "Vengeance is Mine," André Techiné's "Scene of the Crime," Volker Schlöndorff's "The Legend of Rita," Wong Kar-Wai's "Days of Being Wild," Kelly Reichardt's "Old Joy," and Yorgos Lanthimos' "Dogtooth."
In 1987, Kino International launched Kino on Video, which also released highly respected box sets such as "The Art of Buster Keaton" and "The Krzysztof Kieslowski Collection" and "The Wong Kar-Wai Collection."
Krim was also personally responsible for two nationwide re-releases of two different restorations of Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" (first in 2002 for the film's 75th anniversary, and again in 2010 in response to a major archival discovery). Other classic reissues include the 50th anniversary restoration of "The Bicycle Thief" and and recent high-def restorations of Sergei Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin" and Douglas Fairbank's "The Black Pirate."
"He was a major force for preserving and bringing world cinema to the American public," said Sony Pictures Classics' Michael Barker. "And he was one of the loveliest of human beings."
A public service will be held May 23 at 11:45 am at Riverside Memorial Chapel in Manhattan, with a memorial service planned for late June. In place of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to the Fresh Air Fund, the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and Red Hook Rise. Donations to Red Hook Rise should be sent to 481 Van Brunt St. 2nd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11231.