When you step into a relationship, all you need to think about it is you and your partner. How you both feel when you’re together, what you want in life and just how you want to spend your time. You should forget about the other people and what they think of you. Sadly, that’s not always that easy. Especially when you live in the ’60s and you are a mixed-race couple. Director Jay K. Raja (“Causatum”, “The Drop”(short movie)) decided to dedicate his latest short movie “The Bumbry Encounter” to this and the result is a heartbreaking, emotional and timeless but also immensely relevant film.
Meet Jackie (Lauren McFall) and Terry Bumbry (Terry Bumbry) who are living in 1961. He’s black, she’s white. Just as any mixed-race couple they have to fight the prejudice every day and sadly today is no different. After Jackie is being spotted with a black eye, some police officers come to visit the couple. Terry is talking to a few of them in one room while Jackie is having a conversation about it with the family counselor Doctor Bancroft. According to Jackie, the couple had a car accident involving a strange object resembling a UFO and a bright white light due to which she got her black eye and due to which her dress got torn.
Based on the fact that only Jackie was harmed in the accident and not her husband, Bancroft comes to the conclusion that this is a case of domestic abuse (“cause it’s in the blood of black people”). While Jackie’s trying to convince him that her story is correct, he’s persuading her of testifying against her husband and admitting he beat her. There’s even room for mentally manipulating. Will Jackie stick with her true story or will she give in to Bancroft and all the preconceptions against her husband?
While this story is set in the early ’60s, it could have easily taken place in this modern area as there are still a lot of prejudices against people of colour or other “minorities”. Every police case which involves a mixed-race couple might be solved quicker, not as thorough and certainly not as objective as it should be. Especially when a corrupt man as Bancroft is leading the investigation. If this film would be about a white couple going through the exact same circumstance, the outcome might be totally different. Just like in real life.
However, it was a great decision from director Jay K. Raja to go for an inter-race couple. Not only because of the social importance but also just because Lauren McFall (“The 716th”, “Ingenue-ish”) and Skipper Elekwachi (“Thriller”, “Mahalo: Island of Terror”) prove to be an excellent couple. McFall with her captivating and emotional performance as the loving, devoted and happy but also headstrong and tenacious Jackie while Elekwachi puts on a fascinating act as the caring and charming Terry who has to undergo the discrimination against him every day. We see the charismatic Ross Turner (“A Postcard to Nina”, “Ask Me Yesterday”) as the shady and fierce Bancroft who loves nothing more than twisting and turning the truth in every way he wants.
This newest work of director Jay K. Raja will have its California premiere at Palm Springs International ShortFest on the 19th of June as part of the “A World Imagined” program. “The Bumbry Encounter” is a movie you will remember. Not only for its fabulous acting performances, stunning cinematography, the fact that it should be a full-length feature film but most important for its subject. Despite the fact the story was set in the ’60, it’s still an immensely relevant topic about prejudgements against black people as this is still going on today. Something that needs to change…
Film and Celebrity Reporter Liselotte Vanophem