Feature Documentary

Director: Paul Cox

Produced by: Mark Patterson

This deeply humanistic and beautifully directed reflection …. combined with breathtaking scenery and a meditation about life and death.

Peter Krausz – Australian Film Critics Association

World Premier, Adelaide Film Festival, March 2007

Melbourne International Film Festival, June 2007

London Australian Film Festival, March 2008

Halekulani Golden Orchid Special Mention, Hawaii International Film Festival, October 2007

“An important examination of a community that faces unfathomable change when the last residents die in coming decades.” Jason Genegabus – Star-Bulletin

Year Of Production: 2007
Type: Feature Documentary
Investors: Adelaide Film Festival, South Australian Film Corporation
International Sales: Hanway Films

Twenty minutes by plane from modern Honolulu, lies a tiny settlement forgotten by time. Kalaupapa, a peninsula on the island of Molokai, with its swaying palms, unspoiled beaches and stunning mountains, is a paradise on earth, with a history from hell. Kalaupapa is a leprosy colony.

In 1998, Paul Cox was permitted by the leprosy patients of Kalaupapa to stay on the settlement and make a biopic of their hero, Father Damien. Most visitors and tourists that come to pay homage to Father Damien’s grave are not allowed to photograph or film any of the patients and cannot stay at the settlement. Since the completion of “Molokai, The Story of Father Damien”, Paul has kept in close contact with the remaining patients and gained their love and trust.

Paul Cox has been offered a rare opportunity to return to the island and make a documentary, with the full cooperation of the patients.

KALAUPAPA HEAVEN is a 90 minute documentary focusing on the personal stories of the remaining leprosy patients of the island, illustrated through interviews, archival footage, photographs, home movies and some re-enactments. The stories are grim, but are contradicted by present day, where elderly survivors proudly display their scars and wounds, where crippled patients “walk” their dogs by driving old jalopies through the palm-lined streets, where churches reverberate with the sound of singing, where chilling tales of spirits are never in short supply…

A few of the stories of these remarkable people have been written down, yet most will go with them to the grave. They will share the fate of thousands of Hawaiians who, from 1866-1969 were ostracized, shunned and quarantined until a cure was found which rendered leprosy sufferers non-infectious. Since then, most of the remaining patients have chosen to stay on Kalaupapa, no longer able to accept or adapt to the outside world.

The stories of these marvellous people, who suffered so terribly as individuals yet today eschew bitterness for warmth, generosity, and a wonderful sense of humour – are proof that even in the darkest night, there is light.

KALAUPAPA HEAVEN is a film about survival and the celebration of life in the face of adversity.

Director: Paul Cox
Produced by:
Mark Patterson
Directors of Photography: Tony Clark A.C.S., Hans Sonneveld, Paul Cox
Sound Design and Mix:
James Currie  Yuri Worontschak
Aden Young, Meri Blazevski
Production Company: 
Illumination Films, Go Patterson Film