ABOUT THE FILM

Beneath The Veneer is an independent documentary film about opportunity, success and inequity in the United States.

A cohort of young black men growing up in America

Beneath the Veneer follows the lives of a cohort of young black men growing up in America over the course of a year. Age 12 to 19, the boys all participate in an enrichment program entitled My Daddy Taught Me That. Keynon Lake, founder and director of the program, mentors 45 boys alongside his day job as a child protection social worker. Lake, an African American native of Asheville, NC is passionate about making a difference; in particular through mentoring underprivileged kids and exposing them to life changing events. His goal: to equip disadvantaged young men with the tools of success.

But what is success, and what does it take to succeed? The American Dream tells us that hard work and determination can overcome any obstacle on the path to success. Yet history has shown that those without access to wealth, power or privilege are less likely to experience success. If wealth, power and privilege have traditionally enabled individuals and communities to succeed, how do historically marginalized and disenfranchised communities prepare their youth for the future? And what does that look like through the eyes of their youth?

At home and in school, we witness systemic inequity

As we get to know the boys; at home, in school, in the community and at program events; we witness the impact of positive exposure against a backdrop of systemic inequity.

What is it to discover black history, cultural heritage, and genealogy? How does it feel to learn about one’s ancestors? Who were they, what were their challenges, their strengths, their achievements, and what can we learn from them?

What is the significance of being taken on a college tour to an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) when it’s likely that no-one in the family has been to college?

Empowered to plan for their futures

Over time we see the boys empowered to plan for their own futures through career and job readiness training, leadership mentoring and learning to manage money.

Through their eyes, we witness the impact of creative opportunity in the context of experiential workshops; including visual art, spoken word performance, radio broadcasting and music composition. What is it to question, self-reflect and create, not in search of fame and fortune, but for the sole purpose of creative expression and personal development?

Beneath the Veneer is a story set in Asheville, North Carolina.  It is also an American story, one that is being lived by millions of people every day; from Southern Appalachia across North Carolina; from The South to the rest of the US.  In pursuit of this story we go beneath the veneer of the American Dream and ask–what are the obstacles to success, how and by whom are they being challenged, what is success, what does it take to succeed?  And ultimately, what does this mean to these young men, their friends, their families, their communities and their country?

Empowered to plan for the future

Over time we see the boys empowered to plan for their own futures through career and job readiness training, leadership mentoring and learning to manage money.

Through their eyes, we witness the impact of creative opportunity in the context of experiential workshops; including visual art, spoken word performance, radio broadcasting and music composition. What is it to question, self-reflect and create, not in search of fame and fortune, but for the sole purpose of creative expression and personal development?

Beneath the Veneer is a story set in Asheville, North Carolina.  It is also an American story, one that is being lived by millions of people every day; from Southern Appalachia across North Carolina; from The South to the rest of the US.  In pursuit of this story we go beneath the veneer of the American Dream and ask–what are the obstacles to success, how and by whom are they being challenged, what is success, what does it take to succeed?  And ultimately, what does this mean to these young men, their friends, their families, their communities and their country?