The Academy Award-nominated short subject documentary film “A concerto is a conversation,” which was executive-produced by Ava DuVernay and recently premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, is now streaming from The New York Times Op-Docs.
Kris Bowers (pictured) is one of Hollywood’s rising young composers. At twenty-nine 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. 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 Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers’s “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).