As far as raw eccentricity is concerned, few American families could top the Paskowitzes. The patriarch, Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz, began life on a commendable, even enviable course, with an M.D. under his arm, rippling sandy-haired good looks, and experience almost single-handedly teaching the country of Israel how to surf. But in the years to follow, bitterness and inveterate disappointment ensued as Dr. Paskowitz tried to settle into a conventional existence. Two broken marriages and a medical career that Dorian would later describe as "miserable" left him clawing his way out, desperate for an "alternative" lifestyle. He soon met, courted, and married his third wife, a ravishing, sexy young woman named Juliette; these two free spirits jointly decided that they would live life, budding family in-tow, on the open road, in a series of low-budget trailers. As one child after another cropped up over the course of a decade, the family toured the country winning one surfing competition after another, and Dr. Paskowitz accepted low-rent medical jobs for the poor that reeled in little to no income.
In theory, this all seemed idealistic, even utopian; in reality, Dorian Paskowitz was reportedly a severe disciplinarian who denied his children the benefits of school and financial security, forced everyone to stick to an almost unbearable diet of a gruel-like substance, and -- even more alarmingly -- felt comfortable having open and noisy sex with his wife, with the children only a few feet away. In time, as one child after another grew up, left the clan, and attempted to survive, they found it difficult, if not impossible to function in the day-to-day world without the education, social skills, and monetary know-how that so many young adults take for granted. With his documentary Surfwise, filmmaker Doug Pray tells the Paskowitzes' strange, bewildering, and ultimately heartbreaking story via incisive interviews with family members, still photographs, and telling archival footage.