What does it mean to be young, black, male and dare to step out of invisibility?
Finding the Gold Within follows six Black men from Akron, Ohio, through their first years of college. Despite their high levels of confidence and critical thinking, the stark reality of being away from their families and communities brings a series of crises. A sister dies in a car accident; a home gets broken into, a brush with the law, racial jokes and provocations never seem to end.
Each young man is tested. Can he keep his eyes on the prize? Each of them is determined to disprove society's stereotypes and low expectations. Many will have to overcome the fate of their missing fathers, some that of their scheming uncles or drug-dealing cousins.
In the intimate circle of Alchemy - which has been their "family" since sixth grade - they speak of their disappointments, despairs, trials and triumphs with a disarming honesty. Since 2003, Alchemy, Inc. has been mentoring urban youth from elementary through high school in the Cleveland area. Exploring ancient stories, as well as drumming and writing, this innovative program gives young males a chance to grow into self-knowledge, discipline and confidence.
The young men of Finding the Gold Within are allowing us to have an intimate look, but they are also looking back at us. They are stepping out of invisibility. Cinematically, the film is exploring America's historically embedded fear of "Blackness." The willingness of our six protagonists to be fully awake, to struggle and create new cultural identities, individually and collectively, will inspire us all.
Reviews and Praise
"....in this intimate and poetic film..." - Michael Fox, film critic
"With a lens that is both arrestingly artistic and at base sympathetic - this film is a portrait of young black males navigating through an unsympathetic world. It never succumbs to cliches that romanticize or dramatize, but provides a rare platform for the quiet voices of those in the experience." - Troy Duster, Emeritus Chancellor's Professor of Sociology, UC Berkeley
"I rose in the audience and thanked Karina Epperlein for her insightful and moving documentary. Finally we had a film that reveals the often difficult inner lives and striving of black male teenagers. In stark contrast to the stereotype, these young Black men find within themselves a sense of authentic self-worth and learn to avoid self-destructive behaviors." - Avon Kirkland, Producer, Director (Ralph Ellison: An American Journey (AMERICAN MASTERS), Simple Justice (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE)
"Extremely topical... at times inspiring and funny, at other times heartbreaking and disturbing, and always fascinating. The conversations with these young men feature some of the most frank discussions about what it means to be black in America that I have ever heard." - Pete Crooks, Diablo Magazine
Festivals and Awards
Mill Valley Film Festival - 2014
Big Muddy Film Festival - 2015, John Michaels Award
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