Shellshock Rock. 1979. Northern Ireland. Directed by John T. Davis. DCP. 47 min.
A concert film with heart, this debut feature by the noted Northern Irish documentarian John T. Davis is animated by the same raucous energy as the punk scene it documents. Shot on 16mm in 1978 and 1979, this impressionistic portrait of Belfast’s musical subculture travels from dive bar and music club gigs by local talents Protex, the Undertones, Rudi, the Outcasts, and Stiff Little Fingers to Terri Hooley’s famed Good Vibrations record shop and on-the-street interviews with local residents about punk culture. Idealism prevails in the film’s positioning of punk rock as a shared, if not unifying, movement among Catholic and Protestant youths, and crucially a rebellion of their own making, beyond the sectarian divide. (To whit, the contrast with James Nares’s video interview with members of the IRA in No Japs at My Funeral, also screening this month.) Censored by the local Cork Film Festival, Shellshock Rock’s memorable, unique perspective went on to capture audiences internationally—including at Club 57, where its political message and celebration of punk culture garnered repeat screenings.