At the halfway point of this captivating short film is a central image: grandpa’s foot on the pedal of his dry cleaning machine, next to grandson’s foot on the pedal of his piano. From there, stretching forward into the future and backward into the realm of the ancestors stands a remarkable story of belonging, told by people who plainly love each other.
Kris Bowers is one of Hollywood’s rising young composers. At 29, 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 the Op-Doc above, 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.