A Concerto is a Conversation

Long past the time, it finally seems that race and how it affects a family is being discussed. Further to that, films are now being made on the subject. In this world we have created two important markers in a person’s life is the family we belong to and what colour our skin is. Class and race. The divide between the generations within a family. All these things blend together to shape our lives. With the family introduced to us here we learn how some have worked to go beyond what is subscribed to us due to these markers.

Kris Bowers, who co-directed the short film with Ben Proudfoot, is a jazz pianist who began writing scores for films like Academy Award winner, Green Book. Here we get part of the story of his family. Via a conversation he has with his 91-year-old grandfather, Horace. Meaning he was born in a different world than his grandson. Not different enough, but different. Horace was born during the times of Jim Crow South. Born and raised in Florida, all Horace wanted was to get out of there. From a very young age. When he was finally able to move to Los Angeles and got a job working in a dry cleaners, where he met his wife, Alice. At the age of 20 he managed to buy that dry cleaners. This allowed his family, despite all the discrimination they encountered, to get have a stable life financially. Many of us would not identify being a small business owner as establishing a legacy for a family, but it did for the Bowers.

We listen to Horace tell Kris his story. How his family in Florida would sit out on the porch at nights and sing which brought people to listen to them. That love of music has woven its way through the Bowers. We see their love of music has linked grandfather and grandson. At the time of the filming of this short film, which has now been nominated for an Oscar in the Short Documentary Film category, Kris was getting ready for a violin concerto with the American Youth Symphony at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

So the stories of the Bowers and music are woven together in the film. How grandson has become a successful composer and Oscar winner, but still sees his grandfather as the hero of the family. A man whose shoulders he stands on to achieve all that he has. All about perspective and the respect he pays to the man who went through what he did so Kris was able to live a life in which music as a career was possible. Very heartwarming.

Amazing how a conversation between two men can be so riveting. No screaming or drama, just an even toned talk. Simple yet impactful. Really illustrates plenty about race relations in the U.S. How two men of different generations struggled to find their place in very white worlds.

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