Film Hub Fortnightly – May pt 2

18th May 2020 4 Minute Read

As we roll on with lockdown (with one eye focused on when cinemas can reopen safely) we encourage you to take a look at what our brilliant members are doing online.

This week sees the launch of The Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts Festival who have moved online in these lockdown times. As part of the festival, Strand Arts Centre have curated a season of films available online that deal with mental health issues, including a wide range of free and low cost options for all age groups.

Over at QFT Player you can now watch several films directed by John T. Davis, a major figure of Northern Irish cinema. Davis is best known as a music documentarian, specifically for his charting of the NI punk scene in his feature debut Shellshock Rock (1979). This title is available for free, along with Self Conscious Over You (1980), a concert film featuring Belfast band The Outcasts—who also appear in Shellshock Rock—and their iconic 1980 Ulster Hall gig.

A true appreciator of Americana, Davis has also made several films in the States. Including his 1992 film Hobo, in which Davis rides the rails with a man called Beargrease, a former corporate executive who decided to live his life on the margins. While with his latest film Tailwind (2009) Davis returns to his home turf and using a bounty of contemporary and archival footage document Northern Ireland’s involvement in the air theatre of the Second World War. Both titles are available to rent.

If you would like to see more of Davis’ work, the BFI Player also has his documentary Dust on the Bible (1989), about Belfast street preachers, available to stream for free.

That’s not all that is new. QFT Player have also made available to rent Ten Plagues (2017), a lockdown broadcast from The Belfast Ensemble. In association with the Outburst Queer Arts Festival, the ensemble will be presenting and performing a musical medley of cabaret songs and classical pieces written by Conor Mitchell, with lyrics by Mark Ravenhill, and inspired by the AIDS epidemic. This performance will also feature Matthew Cavan, who is the star of another QFT Player title, Becoming Cherrie (2019). Outburst will also be bringing a second film. Available to rent from the 22nd (though you can pre-order it now), Trouble (2019) is the debut feature of LA artist Mariah Garnett and a portrait, using a mixture of documentary and fiction, of her Belfast-born father.

Belfast Film Festival’s BFF Player has also updated its selection, which is all available to stream for free. They have added several past winners of the festival’s short film competition, in celebration of its 20th anniversary. The titles, followed by the year in which they won, include Of Best Intentions (2009), Incoming Call (2017), The White Dress (2007), Even Gods (2011), Good Girls (2018), Exhale (2012), Rúbaí (2014) and Introducing Brian (2016). These shorts offer many different insights into life in Northern Ireland, and across the Republic of Ireland too, from over a decade’s worth of The North’s new and upcoming filmmakers.

While the BFF Player has also added A Kind of Sisterhood (2015), a feature-length documentary directed by Michele Devlin and Claire Hackett which was shown by the festival in 2015. It features interviews with eight women who were interned in the Armagh and Maghaberry jails during the 70s in a look at an aspect of The Troubles that has been long ignored.

By Ruairí McCann