Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Most Notable Documentary You've Never Heard Of

KUKAN: THE BATTLE CRY OF CHINA (1941)

Have you seen it? Didn't think so.

Know what it's about? Thought not.

Any idea who made it? Uh huh.

Even heard of it? Right.

KUKAN was the first Oscar winning American documentary feature. It won a Special Academy Award the first year that the Academy created a new award category for docs. It was famous in its day: national newspapers editorialized on its importance in showing the horrors of the Japanese war against China. The film's director, Rey Scott, screened the film to FDR and Eleanor at the White House. Orson Welles proclaimed, "One of the most exciting stories in the world. Everyone should see it." David O. Selznick thought so much of it, that he distributed KUKAN in 35mm, even after the film had already had an extensive run in 16mm. 

Journalist, photographer and adventurer Rey Scott, anative of St. Louis, made several trips to China in the late 1930s and early 40s, filming the land and people, much of it for the first time in color. He also documented the Japanese invasion and the Chinese people's efforts to repel the enemy. His partner in these efforts was Li Ling-Ai, a Chinese American woman from Hawaii. Li Ling-Ai is the focus FINDING KUKAN, a documentary being made by Hawaiian filmmaker (and friend of mine) Robin Lung - http://www.nestedeggproductions.com/ and
https://www.facebook.com/kukandocumentary

The story of KUKAN and its preservation is worthy of detective fiction. This is only the beginning...



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