A Concerto Is a Conversation
Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers (USA, 13 min.)
“A Concerto Is a Conversation” tells the story of virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer Kris Bowers as he tracks his family’s lineage through his 91-year-old grandfather from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
New York Times Op-Docs directed by Emmy-winning filmmaker and entrepreneur Ben Proudfoot and Emmy-winning composer Kris Bowers (Green Book, When They See Us, “Bridgerton”), and executive produced by Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay, “A Concerto Is a Conversation” had its festival debut at the all-virtual 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
Kris Bowers is one of Hollywood’s rising young composers. At 29, he scored the Oscar-winning film Green Book (2018), and this year he premiered a new violin concerto, “For A Younger Self,” at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Bowers also scored DuVernay’s Emmy-winning limited series When They See Us. For all that success, though, he says that as a Black composer, “I’ve been wondering whether or not I’m supposed to be in the spaces that I’m in.”
In the 13-minute film “A Concerto Is a Conversation,” Bowers traces the process of breaking into new spaces through generations of sacrifice that came before him, focusing on the story of his grandfather Horace Bowers.
As a young man, he left his home in the Jim Crow South, eventually ending up in Los Angeles. Encountering discrimination at every turn, he and his wife, Alice, nevertheless made a life as business owners. Today, their legacy lives on through their family and community in South Los Angeles, where a stretch of Central Avenue was recently designated Bowers Retail Square — in case any question remained about whether it’s a place they belong.
Horace Bowers tells his grandson: “Never think that you’re not supposed to be there.”