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Hana Surf Girls – Starring Monyca Byrne-Wickey and Lipoa Kahaleuahi
Produced by Bison Films | Directed by Russ Spencer | DVD available at hanasurfgirls.com
Reviewed by Chris Grant
If you’re strictly looking for a pre-surf amp film, this isn’t it. However, if you’re looking for a surf movie filled with soul, friends, family, love, tears and breathtaking scenery, Hana Surf Girls fits the bill perfectly. I sat down to view Hana Surf Girls on a cloudy, onshore, non-surf day and to be honest, I wasn’t in a super good mood when I pressed the play button on the DVD player. When the film was over though, I felt refreshed, hopeful and deeply appreciative of the wonderful life we lead as surfers.
The film is narrated by its two stars, Monyca Byrne-Wickey and Lipoa Kahaleuahi, and it follows each surfer as they share their experiences growing up in Hana and the challenges that lie ahead as they choose the paths they’ll take as young adults. Lipoa’s journey takes her to California to attend UCSB while Monyca focuses on her budding career as a professional surfer. While the surfing of both Monyca and Lipoa is red-hot, the surf footage in this movie serves in an almost supporting role to the true star, the community of Hana.
The spirit of Hana is particularly touching during Monyca’s high school graduation ceremony. Monyca’s entire graduating class consists of only eighteen students. Unlike the vast majority of other schools in the United States where graduation consists of having your name called by a school district official, each and every student in Monyca’s graduating class gets to address the audience and publicly honor those family, friends and community members who had a hand in the shaping of each of their lives. Smiles, laughs and tears flow freely and it was a beautiful display of the special community that Monyca and Lipoa grew up in.
Lipoa Kahaleuahi was especially touching in the film and the spirit of aloha she carries with her is clearly evident as she works through family challenges and the transition from the peaceful environment of Hana to California’s hectic pace as shown in the visually ridiculous UCSB Floatopia. Her message of “helping people in need without being asked to help” weaves its way in not only her own life but in the lifestyle of the entire community of Hana where they continually come together for the benefit of their neighbors.
In short, I dug Hana Surf Girls! Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the DVD at hanasurfgirls.com. It’s a truly wonderful film!
Film Description from the DVD Case
Hana is one of the most isolated places in the Hawaiian Islands. Men still make fishing nets by hand and hunt pig on the side of the Heleakula Crater. The high school graduation class has 18 students. Sixty percent of the population is still ethinic Hawaiian. There’s no McDonalds, no malls, and no makeup counters. It’s often called “The Last Hawaiian Place.”
It is also home to two very special surfers, Monyca Byrne-Wickey and Lipoa Kahaleuahi. Each is a native of Hana. Each has grown up in the water and learned to dance hula and make leis. And each has also just come up against what all kids from Hana ultimately face.
You’re 18. You’ve grown up in paradise. Now what?
This engaging, unusual documentary scores on many levels. First, it allows us into the previously private world of Hana. We join local surf contests, get immersed in the Hana way of life, and enjoy the stunning natural beauty that shapes local culture. But most of all, the film tells the poignant, real-life story of two determined girls who embrace their traditional Hawaiian values as they successfully move into their adult lives.