By: Davide Verdelli
The Bumbry Encounter is a short movie written and directed by Jay K. Raja working alongside his directing and producing partner Roth Rind.
The film is set in 1960’s California where mixed-race newlyweds, Jackie, and Terry Bumbry have an extraterrestrial experience. On their way to visit her parents for the weekend, the newlyweds get lost finding themselves by Mount Shasta where they see a bright light. Scared by the paranormal encounter, they try to run away, but they are unsuccessful as Jackie gets hurt.
Once back home the couple rushes to report the extraordinary experience they had to the local law enforcement. The police bring in a psychologist to assess the situation but as Jackie tells her story to the doctor she comes to realize that there may be ulterior motives at play. Unwilling to believe them, the police suspects it was Terry who hurt her.
During the 15 minutes, the director leaves a few open questions allowing the audience to fill them in with their imagination.
We don’t know what the bright light really is. Terry speaks about UFO or aliens but she is not sure either about what she saw as her memories are blurred.
Secondly, Terry’s interrogation is held in a closed-off room where a strange machine can be seen apparently brainwashing him. In the end, Jackie is forced to enter the same mysterious room. Throughout this scene, the director leaves us wondering what’s going on.
Despite the short run-time and thanks to the sensitive topics of racism and paranormal activities, Jay K. Raja allows viewers to experience confusion, excitement, fear and above all anger. This leads me to think that one of the director’s purposes is probably to provoke the audience through an imaginary story that is close to the reality of the period.
The cast is made up of well-known stars: Lauren McFall (Superlosers), Skipper Elekwachi (Unusual Suspects) and Ross Turner (Th1rteen R3asons Why) who also won a Best Supporting Actor award for his role.
In addition, there’s Jerome Stolly’s stunning cinematography, Ali Helnwein beautiful score and great production design by Micah Embry. The short film is in competition at several festivals including the Cinequest Film and VR Festival, Sedona International Film Festival, Boston SciFi Film Fest and it was a finalist at the MisCon International Short Film Festival.
“The Bumbry Encounter” will make its California debut June 19th at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.