With Docs Ireland just over a week away, we are throwing a spotlight on some of the different films to see- today we are casting an eye over the music documentaries on offer, with a selection of new international and Irish films, as well as a retrospective offering of a number of classic music docs from the past.

At the festival’s launch Co-Chair of Docs Ireland, Brian Henry Martin, said: “It’s more important than ever that we celebrate those brave and creative voices who seek out the truth no matter what it is or where it takes them.” As for documentarians, also read songwriters, their counterparts in demystifying social truths and private worlds.

The festival includes new films on PJ Harvey, Chilly Gonzales and Johnny Cash, as well as retrospective screenings of Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, John T. Davis’s 1979 punk documentary Shellshock Rock and a special showing of Robert Flaherty’s pioneering Irish documentary Man of Aran, featuring a newly commissioned live soundtrack.

In A Dog Called Money Irish photographer Seamus Murphy documents PJ Harvey’s creative process for what would become her album ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’, following her as she travels across the globe searching for inspiration in places as far flung as Kosovo, Washington D.C. and Afghanistan. The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash focuses on the recording of his definitive ‘At Folsom Prison’ live album with contributions from Cash’s children and Bruce Springsteen, amongst others, who all try to uncover the man behind the icon. Lesser known, but equally talented, the mad and mercurial Chilly Gonzales is the subject of Shut Up and Play the Piano. With the film following Gonzales’ journey from his Canadian youth, via avant-garde ‘90s Berlin, to becoming a key collaborator to stars such as Drake, Feist and Daft Punk.

The festival also shines a retrospective spotlight on key films and figures from documentary cinema’s past. Filmmaker Don Letts will be appearing in person for a Q & A on his career- if his name isn’t automatically familiar, his work will be. Letts was the videographer to British punk rock, documenting performances by the Clash, the Slits and the Sex Pistols and directing ‘The Punk Rock Movie’. There will also be a special screening of Man of Aran, one of the earliest documentaries ever made in Ireland. The film will be accompanied by a live soundtrack provided by renowned musicians and academics Úna Monaghan, Ceri Owen and Síle Denvir.

The new Irish music documentaries are an eclectic mix of the traditional and the avant-garde that delve into secret and lost worlds. The Curious Works of Roger Doyle follows the eponymous composer during a sudden and deserved upsurge in the five decade career of the man known as ‘the godfather of Irish electronica’. By contrast, Sam Henry Saol’s Saothar is the story of a Coleraine man who collected and documented hundreds of traditional folk songs from early 20th century Ireland.

Music has always proved a rich subject for documentaries to explore. The Docs Ireland programme is a reflection of the importance of these films historically and how they continue to provide some of the most affecting stories in the cinematic landscape.


Enjoy a special 3 for 2 discount on a selection of our music films- Book any two of the following films and receive the 3rd for free:

A Dog Called Money

Ludo is Fantastic

Sam Henry’s Saol’s Saothar

Science of Ghosts

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man

Sé mo Laoch – Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin

Shellshock Rock

Shut Up and Play the Piano

The Curious Works of Roger Doyle

The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash