Art house survivor

• Starland Video owner James McKibbin with one of his favourite directors, Ingmar Bergman. Photo by Jenny D’Anger.

ASKED about his favourite movie, Starland Video owner James McKibbin gestures at an entire row of DVDs.

“The foreign directors aisle,” he says.

“And The Goonies — you have to have a secret shame film.”

McKibbin sees himself as a “curator of film”, and he’s a hard task master on directors who go down the populist line.

“If they sell out we pull them out of the director’s section,” he says.

Video shops have all but disappeared, and those specialising are even rarer.

“I think we are the only art house video store in Australia; definitely there are no others in WA,” McKibbin says.

Known for its esoteric movie collection, Starland was on the verge of closing last year, but an increase in art house and classic rentals turned its fortunes around.

“Fremantle is freak town, and we are the freakiest video store,” McKibbin grins, adding people come from as far away as Embleton and Serpentine to visit his store.

He claims 90 per cent of Starland’s movies aren’t available online and many are in danger of disappearing for good.

“Once we are gone the films are gone.”

He blames his mum for his interest in movies, which started when he was eight year’s old

“She conned me into seeing Gone With the Wind … telling me it was a war movie,” he says.

These days he enjoys more subtle movies, with foreign films topping his list.

“I don’t need to be molly-coddled with my films. I can read subtitles.”

A career in the video business wasn’t McKibbin’s first choice and he qualified as a chiropractor, but a family tragedy forced his hand.

“It was the family business and mum said could I look after it until she found a new manger. They never found one.”

Twenty five years later he’s still passionate about movies, frequenting the Cannes and Berlin film festivals, and scouring op-shops for rare films.

“We have a lot of customers who come in and dump movies which are really good,” he says.

Moving with the times, he has a $15-a-month package that rivals the likes of Netflix, with more than 20,000 movies, documentaries and television series to choose from.

There’s also has a heap of records for sale, as vinyl continues its come back.

by JENNY D’ANGER

Starland Video
216 South Street, Beaconsfield

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