Documentary maker, John T Davies joined broadcaster Vincent Woods at the Irish Film Institute (IFI) last week in celebration of his seventieth birthday. The interview marked the closing of the IFI’s John T Davies retrospective. 

Film maker, singer and poet John T Davis - photo credit Irish Film institute

Filmmaker, singer and poet John T Davis – photo credit Irish Film Institute

The iconic cinematographer hails from Holywood, County Down, but has developed a deep connection with America. This is reflected in films such as Route 66 and Hobo.

To open the event, John shared some short films from his collection, featuring his close friend Van Morrison. They met as young men in the sixties in Belfast. The films capture his love of film and music. 

Van Morrison performs Please Don’t Go, with John Lee Hooker, beside a bayou on the Mississippi river, in the deep south of America. It is particularly significant as the song was the first that Davies learned to play on the guitar. His teacher was Van Morrison. 

Bob Dyan and Van Morrison perform Foreign Window, on a hill in Athens.

John recounted the first time that he saw Bob Dylan, in 1966 in Belfast, when he came to play at the Ritz cinema. The moment had a huge impact on his life. He enrolled in art college and became a filmmaker after inheriting a camera from his late Uncle Jack

After his first film, Shellshock Rock was banned at the Cork Film Festival in 1979, his popularity grew and he travelled to America. He went on to win an award for the film, at the New York Film and Television Festival.
 

John described finding himself at the centre of the beat scene, when he stayed in the same building as the acclaimed beat poet, Allen Ginsberg.

The evening closed with a screening of John’s unfinished  film, MshiikenhmnisingThe work-in-progress is somewhat autographical, combining rich imagery with an abstract exploration of John’s connection with America. It is particularly concerned with the disenfranchised Native American people and the reservation lands devastated by uranium mining.

John T Davies is currently seeking funding to finish his film, Mshiikenhmnising.

Film maker, singer and poet John T Davis at the Irish Film Institute - photo credit Irish Film institute

Filmmaker, singer and poet John T Davis at the Irish Film Institute – photo credit Irish Film Institute