Kukan is a 1941 documentary made by Rey Scott that highlights China’s resistance to Japan during the early years of World War II. It received an honorary Academy Award that cited Rey Scott “for his extraordinary achievement in producing Kukan…under the most difficult and dangerous conditions.” It was then lost for fifty years. Ling-Ai Li, a Hawai'i-born Chinese woman, worked with Rey Scott.
Robin Lung discovered Ling-Ai Li, found Kukan, now being restored, and is in post-production on Finding Kukan, her feature length doco about Ling-Ai Li and the film. Robin is a 4th generation Chinese American raised in Hawai'i, a graduate of Stanford University and Hunter College in NYC, and has been producing short films and documentaries for the past ten years.
In the present, Finding Kukan is the story of Robin’s travels and search for evidence about Ling-Ai Li and the film. To flesh out the historical story, it uses interviews with historians, family members and friends, a 1993 interview with Li Ling-Ai herself, archival newsreel, sound recordings and home movie footage of Li Ling-Ai and Rey Scott and actual color footage from Kukan.
|The Kukan duo|
In addition, an innovative technique combines theatrical readings by actors filmed in high contrast black and white with abstracted shadow plays enhanced by animated special effects, to offer direct 'emotional entry' into the past. It brings to life intimate or especially harrowing historical scenes from the point of view of the protagonists, to encourage audiences to activate their imaginations and bring their personal frames of reference to the historical story. These staged readings are drawn from Li Ling-Ai and Rey Scott’s letters and interviews, multitudes of newspaper and magazine articles, David Selznick’s papers and John Huston’s letters and autobiography. Extreme close up shots of the physical copy of Kukan being assessed and restored will act as a visual time machine or bridge that transports us from one thread of the story to the next. And lushly colored HD footage of Rey Scott’s grand-daughter, Michelle Scott, creating her mixed media 'Kukan' pieces will act as interstitials and a visual metaphor for the resurrection and re-telling of the story.
I fell over the Finding Kukan Kickstarter campaign (now over, having reached its goal) and loved it, including Michelle Scott's art work. I'm enchanted by the extended teaser (below). This interview is to learn more about the story to date.