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John T Davis

Director John T Davis was born in Holywood in 1947. He became a professional filmmaker in 1976 and since then he has earned considerable respect and acclaim for his distinctive style and sincere approach. “I believe in laying my own heart open before I start interviewing or filming” - Davis. His first major film success came with “Shellshock Rock” in 1979, which documented the Northern Ireland’s punk scene. This was followed by “Route 66”, a journey from Chicago to LA, which explored the music and attitudes of middle America along this celebrated highway. It was described by The Guardian newspaper as “hypnotic and unforgettable”. “Power in the Blood”, a film made for BBC Television’s flagship arts programme “Arena”, focused on Vernon Oxford, a one-time country singer turned gospel preacher, on his journey from Tennessee to a missionary tour of Northern Ireland. 

The Times newspaper described it as “visually powerful and emotionally compelling”. John’s film “Heart on the Line” sees him back in America, looking at the songwriters of Nashville, showing their integrity and passion and whose talent is the lifeblood of country music. And so to “Hobo”, (which many of the photographs shown here are from), which saw John himself living as a Hobo for three months, with his camera hidden in his bedrole, jumping the freights to a soundtrack of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. This film was broadcast on BBC2 to open a filmmaker led series, and has won much critical acclaim. HOBO The Film “Hobo” is an intensely personal portrait of the classic American railroad tramp, a wandering man, a fiercely independent man, cast by choice into the world outside the law, into a world that has its own values and codes, a culture that still exists in America. It follows the journey of “Beargrease”, an ex-Vietnam Vet, as he hops the freights from Minneapolis, Minnesota, through the Rockies to Seattle, two thousand miles of bitter, cold, hard travelling on a track known as the Highline. This film documents the daily life of this highly articulate man, revealing his personal thoughts and philosophies, and those of other “boxcar philosophers”, questioning human nature, freedom and responsibility, and the thin thread on which our own reality hangs.

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