Accidental Courtesy

Accidental Courtesy

February 13, 2017

by

Matt Ornstein and Noah Ornstein

A musician's unusual, controversial hobby: trying to befriend members of KKK, many of whom never met a black person.

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About the Documentary

Daryl Davis is an accomplished musician, a piano player who has played all over the world with legends like Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry. He also has an unusual and controversial hobby: Daryl likes to meet and befriend members of the KKK, many of whom have never met a black person. When some of these same people decide to leave the Klan, Daryl keeps their robes and hoods — building his collection piece by piece, story by story, person by person. In Accidental Courtesy, Daryl takes the viewer on a journey from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to Memphis, from Alabama to Ferguson, Missouri, as he recounts the entwined history of black America and popular music.

Along the way, the viewer is invited to sit in as he questions several current and former Klan leaders as well as young Black Lives Matter activists who vehemently disagree with his tactics.

Born in Chicago in 1958, Davis had a unique childhood. The son of a Foreign Service officer, he traveled the world, attended an international school, and assumed that all kids grew up with friends of different nationalities, races, and religions. It wasn’t until his family returned to the States that he suddenly and personally felt the sting of racism. After graduating from college with a degree in music, Daryl hit the road, performing his unique style of boogie-woogie with a range of musical greats, a lifestyle that brought him into contact with all kinds of people and led him on a journey to question and confront racism, one racist at a time. For the last two decades, he has reached out to Klan members and even formed lasting friendships along the way. 

Accidental Courtesy is the portrait of a man who has spent a lifetime pursuing an answer to the question, “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?”

The Filmmakers

Matt Ornstein (Producer/Director) founded Sound & Vision Productions in 2006. Since then, Sound & Vision has produced and developed music videos and commercials as well as short and feature-length films. Sound & Vision produced the Matt Ornstein-directed Atlantis in 2012, starring Jason Ritter and the space shuttle Atlantis. The film was shown at festivals including Austin, Orlando, London, Cannes, Santa Barbara, Taiwan, and 15 others. Matt is the Creative Director of Sound & Vision, and has directed music videos for artists including Radiohead and Daft Punk. He studied film at Bard College.

Noah Ornstein (Producer) joined Sound & Vision in 2008. Noah has served in a variety of roles but now works primarily in the company’s feature film division and as Sound & Vision’s General Counsel. In addition to his work in entertainment, Noah works in real estate investment and development as an attorney and principal. Noah received his JD and MBA from UCLA, and majored in political science and history at Tufts.

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Join the Discussion

Do you think Daryl's strategy of befriending KKK members to change the way they view people of color is the right approach? Is this a good way to spark important conversations about race or do you agree with the Black Lives Matter activists featured in the film that Klan members shouldn't be acknowledged?

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