Moloka’i Bound: Don’t judge a book by its cover


We all carry personal baggage with us. Baggage that consists of decision which we didn’t make, which we would love to re-do and which we would make again next time we face the same problem. No matter how much we want to change our history, it’s just not possible. However, sadly, our history and our past decisions are mostly the things that people use to judge us with. That’s something the young father Kainoa knows like no other. His story, that’s brought to life by director Alika Maikau (“Mauka to Makai”, “Keep You Float”), shows us in a beautiful, fun and emotional way that we certainly need to stop people judging by their past.

It’s break time for schoolboy Jonathan (Austin Tucker), and he’s enjoying a game of Fortnite when a young man approaches him. Before your mind goes into the wrong direction (yes, even Jonathan knows how this could look like for bystanders), let us tell you that that man is Jonathan’s father Kainoa (Holden Mandrial-Santos). Both of them seems to enjoy their father-son time. It’s something they haven’t had for a long time because Kainoa was in prison until recently. Both men are talking about games, school, family and teenage love, and they have a wonderful time. Until someone of their past, present and future turns up. Those lovely moments turn into a nightmare for the father and son.

Who that is and which impact that encounter has on their lives is for you to find out. It’s certainly something you would want to know. Not only because you will see a touching movie but also because “Moloka’i Bound” will make you realize that people judge others too fast and don’t give others a chance just because of some bad decisions.

This moving story is brought beautifully to the screen by Tucker and Mandrial-Santos who have incredible chemistry. Tucker overplays his role a bit, but hey, Jonathan is your typical and rebellious schoolboy full of excitement. It’s also Tucker’s debut movie, so, understandably, he wants to show us what he’s capable of. After starring in another short movie “Mauka to Makai” in 2018, Mandrial-Santos has a bit more experience, and that shows. He feels undoubtedly more comfortable in front of the camera and knows how to balance the different emotions.

What makes you want to discover their lives is the openness that’s being created by cinematographer Chapin Hall (“War of the Cultures”, “Last Taxi Dance”). He comes from a family that has a passion for the virtual arts and that comes definitely through in his work for “Moloka’i Bound”. He mostly uses wide shots so that you have the chance to get to know the father and son and to step into their lives. For the emotional scenes, he goes for more close up shots. If you combine this with his own smooth and straightforward editing, the emotions are being amplified even more.

“Moloka’i Bound” premiered at the ImagineNative 2019 and won the award for Best Short Work and the movie was also part of the Hawai’i International Film Festival, Guam International Film Festival and LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. We hope that “Moloka’i Bound” becomes part of many more film festivals and nominated for an Oscar as we’re pretty sure that the audience will enjoy this delicate and eye-opening movie as much as we did!

Liselotte Vanophem, Just Celebrity Magazine Film and Celebrity Reporter

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