Kris Bowers is an African-American composer who has scored films like the Oscar-winning Green Book, the Serena, Venus and Richard Williams biopic King Richard and Netflix’s Dear White People. In the New York Times Op-Docs short documentary A Concerto is a Conversation, Bowers talks to his 91-year-old grandfather, Horace Bowers Sr., about his life. We learn how Bowers Sr. came from a humble beginning in rural Florida on a plantation, eventually moving away from the blatant racism there to California. With very little, Bowers. Sr. hitchhiked across the U.S. as a young man, finding a job with quick thinking and starting his own dry cleaning business at 20. His journey is not without prejudice, especially as a Black businessman. His legacy of determination is a testament to his grandson’s success, especially in spaces not usually open to Black people.
This touching tribute to the African-American pursuit of the American Dream was written and directed by Bowers and Nova Scotia-born Ben Proudfoot. With excerpts of the beautiful concerto Bowers wrote and performed in 2019, called “A Younger Self,” we see how Bowers Sr. and his struggle to create a life and legacy come to fruition with his grandson’s musical accomplishments. A Concerto is a Conversation hits right in the heart, showing the love and pride between a grandfather and his grandson, and was nominated for the 2021 Oscars for Best Documentary Short.