Ramin Bahrani’s debut feature documentary, 2nd Chance takes an in-depth look at a former pizzeria owner, Richard Davis, the man who invented the modern-day bulletproof vest. To prove that it worked, he shot himself — point blank — 192 times. Davis then launched Second Chance, which became one of the largest body armor companies in the world. Charming and brash, he directed sensational marketing films, earning him celebrity status among police and gun owners across the country. But the death of a police officer wearing a Second Chance vest catalyzes Davis’ fall, and reveals a man full of contradictions cultivated over decades of reckless behavior. Equally as questionable as he was captivating, Davis saved thousands of lives while endangering exponentially more. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ramin Bahrani (Chop Shop, 99 Homes, White Tiger) continues his fascination with the perilous pursuit of the American Dream as seen through a uniquely individual lens. The film shrewdly juxtaposes Richard Davis’ actions with those of his righteous right-hand man, Aaron Westrick. Unwilling to passively present questionable truths, Bahrani instead lays bare the complexities of one man’s supposed virtue while speaking to the nature of power and impunity in America. Director and producer Ramin Bahrani joins us for a conversation on making the leap into feature documentary, his fascination with Richard Davis and his penchant for self mythology, gun culture and the invaluable opportunity for redemption and reconciliation.
About the filmmaker: Academy Award nominee Ramin Bahrani is the Iranian- American writer, director, and producer of The White Tiger, for which he has earned Oscar, BAFTA, and WGA Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay. Based on the Man Booker Prize-winning novel by Aravind Adiga, the critically acclaimed Netflix feature film stars BAFTA nominee Adarsh Gourav, Rajkummar Rao, and Priyanka Chopra-Jonas, and is executive produced by Chopra and Ava DuVernay. Bahrani is the internationally renowned, award-winning writer/ director/producer of critically lauded films such as Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo, At Any Price, and 99 Homes. Early in his career, legendary film critic Roger Ebert proclaimed Bahrani as “the director of the decade” in 2010. For television, Bahrani’s HBO film, Fahrenheit 451, starring Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon, was nominated for five Emmys, including Best TV Movie, and earned a PGA award for best television film. For short films, Bahrani’s Plastic Bag (2009) (featuring the voice of Werner Herzog as a plastic bag), was the opening night film of the shorts section at Venice, and later screened at the New York Film Festival. It repeatedly has been called one of the greatest short films of all time. Currently, Bahrani is directing and executive producing the limited series “The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey,” based on the acclaimed novel by best-selling author Walter Mosley, and starring Samuel L. Jackson and Dominique Fishback for Apple TV+. He is also producing Moratto’s new untitled film starring Rodrigo Santoro, and will direct, write and produce the feature adaptation of Adiga’s latest novel, Amnesty, for Netflix.
“Through startlingly candid interviews, wild archival footage, and a keen visual sense, Bahrani shows how Davis’s invention changed the world, and what the true lasting effects of that change have been.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
“[Davis] is ultimately that archetypal American figure, the unflappable charlatan amassing wealth by carving breaches in the membrane separating media fantasy and political reality.” – Patrick Dahl, Screen Slate
“Ramin Bahrani makes a graceful leap to feature documentaries with this fascinating portrait of a complex, troubling figure and those caught up in his overpowering orbit.” – Shaun Munro, Flickering Myth