Donald B. Krim, who was head of one of the most prestigious independent film distribution companies in the United States, died at his New York home today after a one-year battle with cancer. He was 65. According to his official bio, Krim, as the president of Kino International, helped introduce some of the world’s most revered film directors to U.S. audiences, among them Wong Kar-Wai (Happy Together, Fallen Angels); Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher); Amos Gitai (Kippur, Kadosh); Aki Kaurismäki (The Match Factory Girl, Ariel); Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust); and Andrei Zvyagintsev (The Return).
After law school, Krim began his career at United Artists, first becoming head of the 16mm non-theatrical film rental division, then working on the formation of United Artists Classics, the first major studio-owned art house division and the model for today’s Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics. Eventually, UA Classics also began to handle distribution rights to the MGM library and new foreign films shortly after. In 1977, Krim purchased the one-year-old company Kino International and immediately started to expand. He made deals to handle the Chaplin films, the Selznick films, and the Korda library before releasing new films beginning in 1979. Krim started going to the Berlin Film Festival looking for new films and began acquiring one or two a year.
In the last four years, Kino International titles have earned three Academy Award nominations in the Best Foreign Language Film category: Beaufort (2007), Ajami (2009) and Dogtooth (2010). In December 2009, Kino International merged with Lorber Films and formed Kino Lorber Inc. As The New York Times wrote in 2006: “Movies without Kino International would be like parks without trees, museums without paintings.”