Islands is an experimental video that deconstructs a film by John Huston to comment on the Caribbean‚s relationship to the cinematic image. A story of unrequited love by a shipwrecked American marine (Robert Mitchum) for an Irish nun (Deborah Kerr), Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is set in 1944 in the Pacific, but is shot in 1956 in Tobago using Trinidadian Chinese extras to portray Japanese soldiers. The artist’s uncle Clive is one such extra. Islands is the first piece is a long form composite video and web project called National Sex. As a whole the work maps out the relationship between nationalism and (homo)sexuality in Trinidad and Tobago and Canada.
“Fung deconstructs the 1956 John Huston film Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, a story of the unrequited love of a shipwrecked American marine (Robert Mitchum) for an Irish nun (Deborah Kerr), to comment on the Caribbean’s relationship to the cinematic image. Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is set in 1944 in the Pacific but was shot in 1956 in Tobago using Trinidadian Chinese extras to portray Japanese soldiers. The artist’s Uncle Clive was one such extra, and Fung searches the film for traces of his presence.” (Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, 2007)
“Another interesting example of the appropriation of Hollywood films. In this case, Toronto video artist Richard Fung examines how Hollywood itself filches geographical settings and cultures, and has them stand in for others, the results of which are sometimes awkward. He uses portions of the 1956 John Huston film, Heaven knows Mr. Allison, starring Robert Mitchum as an American marine, and Deborah Kerr as an Irish nun. The film is set in the Pacific in 1944, but was shot in 1956 in Trinidad and Tobago, using Chinese Trinidadian extras to play the part of the Japanese. The filmmaker searches in vain for a glimpse of his uncle Clive, who was cast as one of the extras. Intertitles alert the viewer to the uncle's experience and to the fact that many Trinidadians, upon seeing the finished product, expressed surprise that the Pacific would have flora and fauna that can only be found in the Caribbean.” (‘Worldwide Short Film Festival Award Winners’ by Martin Skrypnyk in Seen and Heard)
“Growing up in Trinidad whenever I saw images of the Caribbean in film or television, they were usually shot in California and featured African American actors with phony accents. As the first piece in the National Sex series, Islands poses questions of visibility, desire and authenticity: is it possible to actually see the Caribbean, so shaded is our vision by tourism and other mediating lenses?” (Richard Fung)