STAUNCH FAMILIES: A Grey Gardens Celebration III

Beyond This Place

Dir. Kaleo La Belle, 2011, 93 min.

Kaleo La Belle, director and narrator of Beyond This Place, finally heard from his dad the day he turned 34. Born on a hippie commune in Maui to Cloud Rock La Belle and mother Marj, little Kaleo’s given name was “Ganja.” Cloud Rock, a spectacularly unrepentant deadbeat father who claims he’s been “stoned for 40 years,” suddenly invites his son to pedal with him on a 500-mile journey through the Pacific Northwest. Frustrated with his old man’s total lack of responsibility, and wounded by his abandonments, Kaleo asks Cloud Rock pointed questions about his motivation. But the old guy refuses to be drawn in. The only things he’s interested in are pursuing his own happiness, LSD, and cycling. “My life is not about disappointing a child. It’s about becoming a man. I love my freedom,” he grinningly tells his son. In an effort to comprehend this maddening person, Kaleo goes on a quest, interviewing commune members still living off the grid in Maui, his mentally ill brother Starbuck, and his mom in suburban Detroit. Simultaneously funny and devastating, Beyond This Place is a heartfelt journey of body and soul.

Q&A with director Kaleo La Belle via Skype