Synopsis by Mark Deming
An ususual story that explores the day-to-day lives of working class Hawaiians (the sort of people tourists never see), Beyond Paradise follows teenage Mark (Roy Newton), who moves to Hawaii with his mother after his parents split up. Among the natives, Mark is an outcast, and he discovers that islanders don't always welcome whites from the mainland, who are coming to their neighborhoods in increasing numbers. After he saves the life of a classmate following a surfing accident, he finds himself more readily welcomed by the local kids, and he makes friends with Zulu (Kalani), Ronnie Boy (Lorenzo Callender), and Keao (Daryl Bonilla). Mark also becomes involved with a Hawaiian girl, Lehua (Priscilla Basque), but the longer he lives on the big island, the more he becomes aware that violence, racism, and poverty are facts of life here as much as anywhere, despite the idyllic surroundings. One of the first independent films to explore contemporary Hawaiian culture, Beyond Paradise was received enthusiastically at the 1998 Hawaii Film Festival and repeated the feat later that year at Los Angeles' AFI Film Festival.
Hawaii, island-tropical, Polynesian, boy, coming-of-age, divorce, native, new-kid-in-town, poverty, racism, surfing, teenagers, working-class