Donald Krim, Cinephile, Film Distributor (1945-2011)


A discerning film distributor and a passionate cinephile, Kino International president Donald Krim died of cancer last Friday at the age 65. The news reached many who knew him during the award presentation Sunday night at the Cannes Film Festival when the Israeli director Joseph Cedar, whose Oscar-winning Beaufort was distributed by Kino International, dedicated his prize for best screenplay for his latest film to Don’s memory–an appropriate recognition of the man’s own, unwavering personal loyalty to and support for the films and filmmakers he distributed.

I began reviewing regularly for the Voice around the time Don acquired Kino International in 1978 and had many opportunities over the years to appreciate his acumen and willingness to take risks.

We initially met when, years before Chinese films were seen anywhere outside of Chinatown, he facilitated King Hu’s first New York retrospective, at the old Bleecker Street Cinema. Kino took both cinema and internationalism seriously. The company was instrumental in making available the films–and in some cases, the oeuvres–of foreign directors as significant as Serge Paradjanov, Wong Kar-wai, and Michael Haneke. In addition, Kino distributed DVDs of classic Soviet, American and Weimar silent movies–most spectacularly Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, which the company brought out in successive definitive editions as new material surfaced. Kino and its subsequent incarnation Kino Lorber also released an impressive range of current movies–the more recent include Manoel de Oliviera’s A Talking Picture, Kelly Reichardt’s Old Joy, Aza Jacobs’s Momma’s Man, the documentaries Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 and The Woodmans, as well as two of 2011’s most powerful foreign films, City of Life and Death and United Red Army.

In a business filled with blustering rogues, Don was a modest man distinguished not only by his taste but by his integrity and kindness. It was as if, in making his considerable contribution to US film culture, he was simply doing that which was natural for him to do. Anyone who cares about contemporary cinema is in his debt. He accomplished a great deal and he will be greatly missed.