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Kino Intl., Lorber HT Digital merge

New venture to be named Kino Lorber, Inc.

Indie film distributors Kino International and Lorber HT Digital have merged. The new company, dubbed Kino Lorber, Inc., will maintain Lorber’s three existing lines (Lorber Films, docu shingle Alive Mind, and music shingle Knitting Factory Entertainment) as well as Kino’s eponymous releasing arm.

“It sort of makes your eyes roll back in your head,” said Lorber prexy Richard Lorber of Kino’s extensive back catalog. “It’s 600+ titles and more to come. I think it’s safe to say that we have the finest library among all the independents in the industry.” That library includes critically praised restorations of films from Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” to Buster Keaton’s “The General,” as well as pics by contempo foreign helmers like Wong Kar-Wai and Michael Haneke.

Richard Lorber’s holding company, Hidden Treasures, Inc, announced that it had completed acquiring Kino on Dec. 8, but that Lorber and Kino prexy Don Krim would serve as co-presidents of the new company. The two men have known each other since college at Columbia Univeristy.

“Kino has been about contemporary world cinema and classic world cinema, and Richard’s been developing these documentaries for the last couple of years,” said Krim. “So we’ll have a wider variety in a broader spectrum of film.”

Kino and Lorber will continue to handle their own theatrical and homevid releases – in the next few months, Lorber will release “Videocracy,” Erik Gandini’s docu about Italian politics and culture; and Giorgos Lanthimos’ “Dogtooth;” Kino will handle “Ajami,” this year’s Israeli entry in the Oscars’ best foreign film category.

The merger will also provide some insulation from slipping DVD sales – down across the board, and not just among indie distribs – and the slow disappearance of arthouse theaters. The new company is looking to move forward with theatrical distribution, and a larger entity may mean increased clout. “There are fewer places to get films seen, theaters are under pressure to keep independent films there for shorter and shorter lengths of time, and critics are harder pressed to find space for reviews,” said Lorber. “But we believe that theatrical experience is still paramount.”

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