[Note: this blog was first published on May 21, 2011]
Don Krim, longtime owner of Kino International, died this morning. He had been dealing with a very serious illness this past year with courage and good humor, but it finally caught up to him. I've known this was coming for some time now, but it still is a shock that he won't be around to laugh about the rise and falls of our businesses and talk about our families. To me, Don was my first boss in distribution and he was a fantastic mentor and a good friend. He gave me opportunities that few ever get in life and I'll always be grateful. When I told him I was leaving to start Milestone, he gave me a small smile and said, "welcome to poverty." And indeed, it was never about the money to him.
Don was able to get films that no one else could have acquired. Because of his determination, hard work, honesty and good reputation, he was able to distribute WOMAN OF PARIS, METROPOLIS, PANDORA'S BOX, BALLAD OF NARAYAMA, DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST, DOGTOOTH and countless other great films that have enriched our lives. Back in the early 1980s, he told me that Kino had a "mandate" to release silent films -- this was at a time when few dared. And though he once joked that films have "the shelf life of milk," he also told me that he sought out films that would endure. That last lesson is something I consider every day.
My first restoration I did with Don was Queen Kelly. And though I did the manual labor, he was there every step of the way to hold my hand and gently guide me past my ignorance. There was one point where we "discussed" for three days over one intertitle until we got it right. But when I was writing up the final credits, he refused to share in any of them. He told me that the Kino logo was his credit and that was good enough. Although he sold his beloved company a year ago, Kino will always be his grand legacy. Our world owes a great debt to Don and his work.