Saturday, September 10, 2005

Overlooked World Cinema Releases

Ian Stimler, KimStim Video

KimStim, an enterprising DVD company based in Brooklyn, is a "niche" label specializing in releasing films that founders Ian Stimler and Mika Kimoto themselves want to see on DVD. KimStim have already released two films from Austrian bad boy Ulrich Seidl, Chantal Akerman's adaptation of Proust's La Captive, and talented French director Laurent Cantet's debut feature, Human Resources.

Its first batch of DVDs were distributed by Image Entertainment; now aligned with Kino on Video, KimStim looks to corner the niche market for French DVDs, as their first 2005 releases show: Akerman's Tomorrow We Move, and a quintet of Claude Chabrol films (Cop au Vin, Inspector Lavardin, Betty, L'Enfer and The Color of Lies). KimStim's Stimler spoke about releases past, present and future.

Kevin Filipski: Why did you jump from Image to Kino for distribution?
Ian Stimler: When Image handled our distribution, they told us they were eliminating smaller lines since the DVD market had grown too much. After they warned us about this, I decided to look for a new home. Working in New York City and knowing Kino, it seemed to us like a good fit to work with them. The covers say KimStim, and their press releases say KimStim, which help keep us separate from (Kino's) own DVDs.

KF: Tomorrow We Move is the second Chantal Akerman film you've released. Are you a fan?
IS: Yes, I am a fan. It's a minor Akerman film, but a minor film for her is a major film for most other directors. It's a wacky screwball comedy, which is different for her. Her films are difficult. If you don't appreciate her, then watching one of her screwball comedies will be very tough for non-initiates. We also released her version of Proust's La Captive. That's one of the great things about video and DVD now: you can offer these great pieces of cinema that no one would ever see otherwise. (Neither Akerman film was ever distributed theatrically in America.) They're hard to sell, too, since-unless you have a really good genre film or a real prestige item-most films don't age well.

KF: How did you secure the rights for these five Chabrol films on DVD?
IS: Chabrol has such a huge output and there are so many films available, but he makes films of varying quality: he makes A, B and C films. I know people complained about some of the DVD releases from other distributors. (Vanguard Cinema released several Chabrol titles in 2003 that were substandard in image quality.) We worked with MK2 in France: Marin Karmitz is the producer of all these films so he has a personal investment in them on DVD. When we were working with MK2, there was a lot of haggling over making sure they're done properly with lots of extra features. Some of the movies may be considered B-level Chabrol, but seeing them again and watching the short critical introductions (by French critic Joel Magny) may cause people to re-evaluate them. L'Enfer was out on DVD before (from Fox Lorber), but the quality was bad and we've done a good job thanks to MK2. Actually, right now I don't have the Canadian rights for The Color of Lies, but once I get those in a few months, I can release a boxed set across North America.

KF: The MK2 versions released on DVD in France have many extras. Are they also available on your releases?
IS: I licensed all of the extras for all of the films, but we decided that some titles deserve the trouble and expense of having all the extra features-like L'Enfer-but for some of the others, we just picked and chose to make it worthwhile. We would like to work with MK2 again, they're a very prestigious and established French film company, and we hope our relationship will continue. Marin is a big-time producer and these are his babies, it's like dealing with the filmmakers directly. A lot of their stuff has already been pretty carved up by other companies, unfortunately, but it hasn't come out yet. MK2 understands the archival nature of DVD and they do it with an eye towards licensing their extra features for other markets, which is the biggest challenge besides making the films look good.

KF: What's in the pipeline for KimStim?
IS: We've got some titles coming up from director Seijun Suzuki. He had a falling-out with the major Japanese studios some years ago, and we picked up several of his films that we're planning to put out in a boxed set. He made three films from 1980-1991 which came to be known as the Taisho trilogy. Zigeunerweisen is considered his masterpiece, and it's a visually stunning film. But all three from the trilogy have been overlooked, and we were fortunate enough to find the company that owns the rights, and which put them out in Japan recently as a boxed set. We're going to look at them over the summer, and we want to bring these out in the beginning of 2006. I'm going to Japan soon and we'll start collecting materials for the set. We want to lay a lot of groundwork for these titles before we release them, because we feel they're very important films.
originally posted on

No comments: