After the war, Rive began work at the then Berkeley cinema on Tottenham Court Road and soon took over as manager. Looking to exhibit the films he himself wanted to see, he travelled to Moscow and negotiated a license for a package of Russian films, previously unseen in the UK. So began his career as a distributor, which lasted until 30 December 2002, the day he passed away. The company Rive formed in 1952, Gala Film Distributors, continues today.
Kenneth Rive set up offices at the Berkeley to launch Gala Film Distributors in 1952 – the company name inspired by a Bolshoi Ballet picture, Gala Festival, one of a batch of Russian productions that he secured by visiting Moscow.
Rive started late-night Gala film clubs to show this and other banned or cut films, recruiting the censor, John Trevelyan, to support his efforts.
Gala was by far the biggest British distributor of foreign films.
As cinemas closed and attendances fell, it became increasingly hard to obtain a good return from foreign films in Britain. Rive went into partnership with BBC television for some acquisitions and, with the newly arrived Cannon Films.