Peripheral Visions - a John T. Davis retrospective


Peripheral Visions - a John T. Davis retrospective

Still from Uncle Jack

Legendary documentary filmmaker John T. Davis, who chronicled the Northern Irish punk scene, celebrates his 70th birthday with a major retrospective at Queen’s Film Theatre this March and April.

This long overdue celebration of Northern Ireland’s most distinctive documentary filmmaker and cinematographer will give Belfast audiences the chance to experience punks, preachers, hobos and other outsiders through John T. Davis’ lens.

The retrospective, presented in partnership with Film Hub NI, entitled PERIPHERAL VISIONS, begins on Friday 3rd March with an on-stage event that sees Davis in conversation with his former art school tutor and BBC Arts Show film critic, Mike Catto.

It continues with Davis’ ‘Punk Trilogy’ on Saturday 4th March, featuring the classic SHELLSHOCK ROCK from 1979 which captures the rough aesthetic of the music – much of the filming was done in dingy bars and music clubs including the Harp Bar, the Pound and Terri Hooley’s Good Vibrations record shop. SHELLSHOCK ROCK features the music of Protex, The Undertones, Rudi, The Outcasts and Stiff Little Fingers and is punctuated by interviews with Terri Hooley, band members, and a series of disarmingly articulate young Belfast punks.

Other films include a double bill of POWER IN THE BLOOD and DUST ON THE BIBLE on Sunday 5th March. POWER IN THE BLOOD (1989) documents country gospel singer and preacher, Vernon Oxford’s journey from Franklin, Tennessee to Belfast on a mission to bring the healing power of Jesus back to Northern Ireland. DUST ON THE BIBLE (1989) focuses on Belfast’s charismatic street preachers and features an impassioned sermon from Pastor James McConnell.

Screening on 6th and 19th March, HOBO (1991) sees Davis jump freight trains in the company of railroad vagabond Beargreese, as they travel 2,000 miles across the USA. THE UNCLE JACK (1996) screens on 18th March and is an intimate portrait of Davis’ maternal uncle John McBride Neill, the Ulster cinema architect who from the 1930s to the 1960s designed 18 cinemas in the province.

Full details and booking on The retrospective continues in April with ROUTE 66 and more.

Special thanks to Northern Ireland Screen, the Irish Film Institute, Peter Strain and Yellowmoon.


John T. Davis talking about his career as part of the BFI Season - Britain on Film: Made in My Town.

Video credit: Karma Dinosaur