[J Magazine] Interview_David REDMON, Ashley SABIN, Director of Kim's Video
2023-05-03 09:00:00

[Interviewee - David REDMON (Director), Ashley SABIN (Director) / terviewer – HUH Namwoong (Film Critic)]

Q1. It was very impressive how the story unfolded in an unpredictable way. At first, were you only trying to capture the process of finding Youngman Kim’s whereabouts on camera?

David REDMON - We were curious about what happened to the collection and so Ashley sent me to go rent a movie in Salemi.

Ashley SABIN - The film unfolds in a very similar manner to how we experienced the story. We didn’t know the state of the collection, who was in charge of it, whether they would let us in. The most important piece was to get permission from Youngman Kim to make the film. The way we located him is yet another strange part of the story for another day.

Q2. It must have been scary to trigger the alarm when entering the storage space of Kim’s video collection in Salemi, Sicily. The police would have arrived too, right? What was going in your head at the time?

David REDMON - I (David) was more surprised than frightened. At first, I didn’t know who the men were. It took a while to understand who they were and whether I could believe them. Enrico and his wife Ina were kind. Before the police arrived they took me upstairs to have a coffee. When I found out the men were the police, I was thinking how odd it will be if I get arrested for trying to rent a movie on VHS and DVD.

Q3. The former mayor of Salemi decided to take Kim’s archive collection to gain his own advantage. It seemed like the mafia was involved as well. Did you receive any threats while filming?

David REDMON - We never had threats. There’s two versions of Salemi: old Salemi and new Salemi. We were working with new Salemi.

Q4. Because of Kim’s video collection, you also visited New York and South Korea, and especially Salemi many times. That’s a lot of travel expenses. On top of the production cost. How did you manage all the expenses?

David REDMON - LEF, a wonderful documentary funding organization based in New England came on board early and late, and so did DIG in Modena. They were excellent collaborators. At DIG we met Fremantle who became co-producers. The Bergman Institute in Sweden also assisted with the making of Kim’s Video. We also had two producers who supported our movie. The rest of the movie was paid for by us (David and Ashley).

Ashley SABIN - We’ve made many films over the years and we typically budget them with the philosophy of don’t spend the money if you don’t have it. So we are constantly finding ways to be resourceful.

Q5. Kim, who collected and rented all kinds of movies since the 1980s, seems like a person with a great love for movies. He also created movies himself. While working on Kim’s Video, what did you personally think of Kim?

David REDMON - We never met Mr. Kim as members of Kim’s Video. He was always a myth to us and everyone around us.

Ashley SABIN - Yongman Kim opened his home to his both literally and figuratively after we met him. He allowed us access to his personal archive. He is not afraid of criticism which is rare in a documentary subject.

Q6. While watching Kim’s Video, we could validate the power of solidarity in film. The abandoned collection was returned to New York and Kim’s Video was reborn. Did you ever believe that movies could change the world? Or did you realize it while filming this movie?

David REDMON - We don’t think movies can change the world, however we understand the power of moving images to move and shape ideas, dreams and perspectives of people and cultures. We do not make movies to change the world but in the case of Kim’s Video we had to work together with everyone in the movie to change a situation.

Ashley SABIN - The story is really a case of experiencing chance and the serendipity of life. We wanted to reconnect with our past and while on the journey we became directly involved in the story. Moving the collection from Salemi to NYC seemed like magic was on our side.

Q7. Among Kim’s collection, there are quite a few films that were not officially released. We wonder how the copyright issues are resolved and rented to members.

David REDMON - Fair use laws in the US are more relaxed. Those movies that have never been released are allowed to be copied under certain conditions. We can’t recite the exact law at the moment (because we’re not lawyers) but we are 100% certain they can be made available to the public under certain conditions (e.g., part of an archive, no other means available to access the movies, never been released, and more)

Q8. After watching the film, we think some of our Korean audiences would like to become a member of Kim’s Video. How can they join?

David REDMON - What a wonderful idea! Mr. Kim will be at the film festival and he’ll gladly instruct everyone. Nick Prueher is in charge of the collection at the Alamo. We still need to archive about 20,000 more movies and were’ trying to raise $50,000 to process the rest of the collection, build VHS shelves throughout the cinema space at the Alamo, and update the movies with new digital barcodes. The phase will be to digitize the most rare and hard to find movies. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to assist or help financially contribute to the effort!

Actually, Mr. Kim owned another video store of 25,000 movies on VHS and donated them to two different universities in Seoul. I (David) had a chance to visit them while filming Mr. Kim. Those VHS are in excellent condition.

Ashley SABIN - It’s going to take time and money to get the films available digitally. In the meantime we recommend people get a library card, go to their local cinema, start a screening series. Keep the ghosts of cinema alive!

Q9. As a member of Kim’s Video, you must have rented and watched a lot of films. Can you pick your top 3 films?

David REDMON - It’s impossible to pick three movies. However, today I (David) can mention three shots from movies (tomorrow I’ll have three different shots!).

  1. The swirling coffee shot in Godard’s Two or Three Things I know about Her
  2. The moment of confrontation in Kazuo Hara’s The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On
  3. The tomato soup can in Greg Araki’s movie Nowhere.

I found many movies by Ulrich Seidl at Kim’s and watched them several times. Every frame in his movies is a masterpiece.

Ashley SABIN -

  1. The Gleaners and I by Agnes Varda
  2. I am Curious (Yellow and Blue) by Vilgot Sjoman
  3. A Woman Under the Influence by John Cassavettes

Q10. What are you preparing for your next project?

David REDMON - We want to make a fiction version of the documentary are currently trying to raise funds to do so! We’ll adapt the documentary into a fiction movie with several changes along with scenes we were unable to include in the movie. Again, if anyone is interested in supporting our project and dreams, please get in touch with us. The Ghosts of Cinema are on our side.

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