Matt Ornstein founded Sound & Vision Productions in 2006. Since then, Sound and Vision has produced and developed music videos, commercials, and short and feature length films. Sound & Vision produced the Matt Ornstein directed Atlantis in 2012 starring Jason Ritter and the space shuttle Atlantis. It appeared in film festivals including Austin, Orlando, London, Cannes, Santa Barbara, Taiwan and 15 others. Matt is the Creative Director of Sound and Vision, and has directed music videos for artists including Radiohead, Daft Punk, Penguin Prison, Cobra Starship, Ashtar Command, and Harmar Superstar. Matt studied film at Bard College.
I first became aware of Daryl Davis through a newspaper article. The headline was something along the lines of "KKK Member Walks up to Black Musician in a Bar but This isn't a Joke" and that premise caught my attention. After subsequently spending a significant amount of time with both Daryl and his story I can fairly say that it delivers on the promise of this initial set up, but also much more hopefully. The result is the film Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America which we are honored you have chosen to watch.
Daryl Davis is an interesting and complex man. He is the sum of his experiences and influences, as are all of us, but his have lead him to a different place philosophically then we have previously encountered. Because Daryl grew up abroad in a truly mixed environment he has never taken for granted the ingrained racism we often find ourselves surrounded by in America. Perhaps this is what has allowed him to directly approach men and women who on the surface would appear to be his mortal enemy. In an age where people will do literally anything to avoid in person contact, Daryl makes himself available face to face. He offers his conversation, music and friendship...often with great success. It makes you wonder what else we take for granted that we could affect through better dialogue instead of complete dismissal.
The issues that Daryl and to a lesser extent this film tries to address are bigger than any one person, big enough to seem too daunting to even approach. But person by person, scenario by scenario Daryl has found his footing, leaving behind him a trail of people he has personally affected some degree of change upon. There's a lesson in there for all of us perhaps, there certainly was for us as filmmakers.
We followed Daryl and his work meeting members of hate groups for roughly two years, and as we made the film the narrative continued to shift in front of us. Both with the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement from the repeated killings of unarmed Americans by those sworn to protect them, and with the resurgence of white nationalist hate groups many had hoped to be on their last legs.
As I write this, our country is, on the surface at least, deeply divided. Many Americans are afraid of losing their way of life, and when people are afraid they tend to gravitate towards easy answers and scapegoats. If you had told me when we began this project that in 2016 white supremacists would be not only broadcasting from a Presidential candidate's rallies, but that he would be unwilling to promptly denounce their support I would not have believed you yet that is the reality as I write this.
ACCIDENTAL COURTESY is a film that takes place here and now in America and depicts a series of people who are all fallible but also all attempting to serve a message they believe in, even if some are wrong both in methodology and content. Everyone in this film stands for something, hopefully asking the viewer "what do you believe in?" We are grateful to Daryl for letting us tell this story and hope to instigate a vast number of conversations over an even more vast number of cups of coffee, cocktails and pieces of pie. To loosely paraphrase Daryl, this country is what we all make it and never a lost cause, not even for a minute.
Thanks for taking the time to watch with us,
Director Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis; Race & America