Can the discovery of a long lost 1941 Oscar-winning film bring recognition to the unheralded Chinese American woman behind the making of the movie?
View the Work-In-Progress Teaser
Finding KUKAN is in the beginning stages of post-production. We are currently raising funds to pay for editing, storyboarding of shadow sequences, licensing footage, and music composition. You can help bring this story to fruition by making a tax-deductible donation HERE.
Backers who donate $25 or more receive a set of three souvenir postcards made from the original 1941 KUKAN lobby cards; backers who donate $1000 or more receive official film credit.
*On October 15, 2013 we completed a successful “10k in 10weeks Keep This Film Alive Campaign” by raising $10,403. Mahalo and Xie xie to all the generous donors who made it happen.
About The Film
The courage of the past is the inspiration for the future. But what happens when that past is forgotten or obliterated? Hawaii Chinese filmmaker Robin Lung, who grew up longing to be blonde and blue-eyed, doesn’t remember any Chinese American heroines in the popular culture of her youth. So when she discovers that a Chinese woman from Hawaii named Li Ling-Ai co-produced a 1941 Oscar-winning film called KUKAN, her amazement quickly turns to an obsession to learn all she can about Li and the film.
The trouble is KUKAN, an epic color film of China and its people amid war with Japan, has been lost for over half a century. No known copy exists. What’s more, the Academy Award and most of the attention for KUKAN went to cameraman Rey Scott. Li Ling-Ai is only credited as a Technical Advisor and has been completely ignored by film historians. Lung’s sense of injustice spurs her on to locate Rey Scott’s four sons who have one badly damaged full copy of KUKAN. Lung also finds scrapbooks, letters and articles that tell an inspirational story of two novice filmmakers who brave war, prejudice and poverty to bring China’s war-time plight to the rest of the world. Their movie ends up screening for President Roosevelt at the White House and helps to change the course of the war. But as the years pass, China falls out of political favor and KUKAN and Rey Scott drop out of sight. Li Ling-Ai’s stories about KUKAN seem more and more unreal. She has little to show to prove her part in the making of the film, and many pass her stories off as exaggerations or lies. Lung’s effort to restore KUKAN and retell Li’s story become essential to securing a place in film history for this pioneering Chinese American media maker.