A Concerto Is a Conversation (2020)
Dirs: Kris Bowers, Ben Proudfoot
What is a concerto?
The title says it succinctly, then the film beautifully explains in the first minute that it’s a conversation between a soloist and an ensemble. The film is also a conversation that touches on big issues but with personal experiences related in a conversational manner.
Who is this a conversation between?
It’s a very warm conversation between the composer Kris Bowers and his grandfather Horace who has an interesting life story, from which he relates pieces that touch on how his grandson is feeling about his own place in the world.
When have I heard of Kris Bowers before?
He’s a successful composer, most recently maybe most notably for composing the music for ‘Green Book’ as well as many other TV series and films in the past few years.
How is this put together?
The two subjects are shot in a very direct way with the two men addressing the camera as if each other, and their delivery feels perfectly naturalistic and genuinely conversational. Other than that, things are kept quite simple, a few clips and photos are thrown in to illustrate what’s being talked about but nothing overly showy, as it doesn’t want to draw focus away from what they’re saying.
Why is it so good?
I liked how it touches on issues of race from a deeply personal point of view, relating some key points from an interesting life, as grandfatherly wisdom to the younger generation. While the older generation faced clear forms of racism, the younger generation are benefitting from change and choices made before they were even born, yet still left questioning their ability to succeed in largely white professions.
Where is it available to watch?
I watched it on The New York Times YouTube here, but I can’t guarantee that link will always work. It’s worth searching out if needed, it’s a lovely documentary that makes you feel like you’re having a coffee with these men and are welcomed into their relaxed family conversation. It strikes the perfect tone and was time well spent.
This wonderful film is nominated for an Oscar in the Documentary Short category at this year’s Academy Awards. I need to see more of the films in this category, but already this is a really great start, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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