Last night, the BHS Film Club hosted its first event, a viewing of the documentary Finding the Gold Within, and it was a success. The film, which follows the lives of six African American men as they spend their first year out of high school, highlights the importance of myth, storytelling, creative expression, and emotional openness in finding personal and academic success. Each of the six men spotlighted in the film took part in the mentoring group Alchemy, Inc., which works to help urban youth find their purpose, recognize their value, and contribute to their community through leadership. BHS students watched the film, with an intermission for pizza, and engaged in a follow-up discussion to share their thoughts on the movie’s meaning.
Film Club advisors chose Finding the Gold Within to honor Black History Month, as well as to provide students with an opportunity to think and talk about topics regarding race and identity. Another driving force behind the choice of this film was its connections to the BHS curriculum. Echoing the work of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell regarding universal experiences and the concept of personal transformation, the film makes the concepts of the Hero’s Journey, the monomyth, very relevant to the lives of every individual, not just the heroes in literature. The leaders of Alchemy, Inc. work with young men to help them look inside themselves and find their own value, their gold within, to guide them on this journey. The process requires a great deal of reflection as well as sharing, and it emphasizes the power everyone has to create his own path, no matter what circumstances and adversity he faces.
This showing was the first in the film club’s new Documentary Film Series, a program designed to provide an opportunity for students to learn about varied topics, cultures, and contemporary issues through film and discussion. The talk-back session after this viewing allowed students to share their thoughts on the messages of the film. Students commented on how the film’s exploration of racism in America focused on the power of the individual to overcome it, and defy the stereotypes that continue to limit men of color. Other student comments focused on how the story, although centered on a very specific group of young men, could apply to all. They found the film’s messages about not letting your surroundings define you, and becoming the hero of your own story to be inspiring.
The next showing in the Documentary Film Series will be held in March to recognize Women’s History Month. We will be showing Girl Rising, a film which “journeys around the globe to witness the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world. Viewers get to know nine unforgettable girls living in the developing world: ordinary girls who confront tremendous challenges and overcome nearly impossible odds to pursue their dreams” (Girl Rising). We hope to see you there.
If you are interested in joining the film club or learning more about the Documentary Film Series, please see Ms. Roberts (room 315) or Mrs. Janovitz (room 320).