Over at the Wall Street Journal, Bruce Bennett chats with Robert Greene, the director of the low-budget indie documentary “Kati With An I,” one of the nominees in the Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You category of the Gotham Awards, which take place tonight. Greene shares that his journey toward making the film, which follows his half-sister as she approaches her high school graduation in Alabama. It turns out the late, lamented Kim’s Video in the East Village played a significant role in the film getting made.
The Kim’s staffer who hired Mr. Greene to work in the now shuttered St. Mark’s Place store was future “Kati With and I” principal photographer and co-producer (along with Mr. Greene, Susan Bedusa and Douglas Tirola) Sean Price Williams. “I walked in and made a [iconic French filmmaker] Jean Eustache reference, and Sean pretty much hired me on the spot,” Mr. Greene said.
Mr. Williams recalled the moment. “You’re able to judge people very quickly on something as superficial as their movie tastes,” he said. “You know if you’re going to have something to talk about at least.”
The video store’s rental floor eventually became a talent pool. “Everybody felt like we should be making movies instead of just talking about them and watching them,” Mr. Greene said. So he tapped Mr. Williams to shoot his City College thesis film in 2001. The pair then filmed unrelated casual interviews with Mr. Greene’s half-sister, Kati Genthner, introducing her to the filmmaking process and laying the groundwork necessary to document her life truthfully years later in “Kati With an I.”
Though I treasure my Netflix streaming account, I miss the ever more rare video stores, most of all for the idea that they were havens for die-hard cinephiles and aspiring filmmakers who traded likes and dislikes and plotted future projects between checking out rentals and handing out jobs based on Eustache references. Kim’s, a New York institution, surely figures into other stories just like Mr. Greene’s.