Sign of the times: Kim’s Video heads to … Sicily

East Village residents can say “Arrivederci!” to another neighborhood institution. The beloved movie shop Kim’s Video will soon shut down its rental service on St. Marks Place and ship the store’s 55,000-title film collection to a new far-flung home – in Italy.

And it’s been given away for free.

For owner Yongman Kim, losing his video collection marks the end of an era. “I think my passion in loving film to share and introduce to New Yorkers is no longer valid,”he told the Daily News via e-mail. Kim cited the “so-called Internet revolution”as one cause of the store’s demise. Online rental services like Netflix hurt business, and Kim also blames digital distractions like e-mail and YouTube – activities he says occupy the time people once spent watching movies at home.

Kim made a public offer in early September to donate his film collection for free, as long as the new owner kept the library intact and had 3,000 square feet to house the thousands of films.

Kim went with a bid from Salemi Mayor Vittorio Sgarbi – a former TV talk show host described as “one of the oddest and most colorful figures in contemporary Italy, by the British newspaper, The Independent – who’s trying to revitalize his poverty-stricken town.

“I now do not want to fight against the new stream,”Kim said. “I just want to disappear calmly.”

The collection is valuable for a number of reasons. I am surprised no one in NYC had the smarts or civic concern to reach out and acquire the collection for posterity. The city is, after all, one of the world-class centers for the development of cinema production.

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