Review by James Lindorf
Writer/Director Jay K. Raja and frequent collaborator Director/Producer Roth Rind have teamed up on their latest short film, The Bumbry Encounter. The year is 1961, and newlyweds Jackie and Terry Bumbry are on their way to see her parents for the weekend. With Terry doing both the driving and navigating, the pair accidentally take a road less traveled near California’s Mount Shasta. Before they can find their way, they find themselves in the middle of a paranormal encounter with a bright light in the sky. After reporting their experience to local law enforcement, Jackie comes to the realization that there may be ulterior motives at play. The Bumbry Encounter is continuing its tour of festivals and will make its California debut June 19th at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
While set in 1961, six years before the US Supreme Court would make Jackie and Terry’s interracial marriage legal in every state, The Bumbry Encounter’s message still rings true today. Raja creates a blend of Fire in the Sky and Get Out in his own supernatural story of racism, segregation, and governmental mistrust. Raja crafted his screenplay to allow viewers to experience various emotions, from confusion and excitement to anger, in spite of the short run-time.
The film stars Lauren McFall (Superlosers), Skipper Elekwachi (Unusual Suspects) and Ross Turner (Thirteen Reasons Why) who, barring a line or two, all give inspired performances conjuring real reactions from the audience. Coupling the strong acting with beautiful cinematography and great musical cues by Jerome Stolly and Ali Helnwein respectively, created a world that goes by too quickly during its 15-minute runtime. The ending leaves the motivations of the film’s antagonist slightly ambiguous, which can be frustrating, or as in the case of The Bumbry Encounter, lead to an interesting discussion.