It was just earlier today that A Concerto is a Conversation picked up an Academy Award nomination in the short doc category. It's the latest major success for Kris Bowers, one of Hollywood's rising young composers who at the age of 29 scored the Academy Award-winning Best Picture Green Book and whose work has also included current hit Bridgerton along with When They See Us among others.
The film is co-directed by Bowers with Emmy Award-winning Ben Proudfoot, himself an up-and-comer who made Forbes Magazine's "30 Under 30" list in 2020. Executive produced by Ava DuVernay, A Concerto is a Conversation is a beautiful film to behold from beginning to end with a story that weaves together Bowers' remarkable journey with that of his 91-year-old grandfather Horace, a remarkable man in ways different yet no less profound.
Having premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, A Concerto is a Conversation is currently streaming at The New York Times Op-Docs and, indeed, it is a film that demands to be seen. Bowers traces his own breaking into spaces where he sometimes finds himself wondering if he truly belongs, yet in tracing his own journey he parallels with his grandfather's upbringing in Jim Crow Florida and in Los Angeles, where Jim Crow may not have been so pronounced but the racism was no less obvious and no less impactful on his life. Horace Bowers Sr. would end up becoming a business owner with his wife Alice, building a life practically brick-by-brick that poignantly matches the note-by-note groundbreaking life of Kris Bowers as he moves toward premiering his new violin concerto For a Younger Self at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
A Concerto is a Conversation is a warm, intimate film. The relaxed intimacy of grandfather and grandchild is refreshing in its portrayal of a natural masculinity and of familial bonds and deep respect. You can see the love on Kris Bowers' face as he shares the screen with his grandfather, his palpable wince when even the word slavery is mentioned and his absolute sense of gratitude at the life that his grandfather endured that opened the doors for a grandson's dreams to come true and chosen path to be possible.
Not surprisingly, Bowers himself scores the film and it is exquisite. Lensing by David Bolen and Brandon Somerhalder is warm, immersive, and enveloping throughout the film's 13-minute running time. A Concerto is a Conversation is a film you won't forget and a film you won't want to see end.