Skip to Content

Centre for Documentary Research

About us

The Centre for Documentary Research at QUB was launched on April 4th 2017. It is an initiative that offers a space to debate issues and organise activities around the study and practice of documentary film. Our team in interdisciplinary, with interests in Film, Languages, English and History. We are scholars, students, curators and practitioners of documentary film, with interests including mental health, conflict, experimental film, Brazilian protest films, new media and interactivity. We intend to run workshops, screenings, seminars, and conferences; contribute to publications; and, of course, make documentary films.

Collaborations and links
Upcoming Events

AEL Centre for Documentary Research Presents …

The Squid and the Pine: Special Preview Test Screening and Discussion with John Williamsposter for preview screening with man walking away through a snowy landscape. Abstract black-ink brush stokes beneath.
February 21, 2024, Screen 2, Queen's Film Theatre, 20 University Square
15:00 - 17:00

Kitaushima is a small fishing village on the very northern tip of Sado Island. Until the 1960’s it was only accessible by boat. Hundreds of people used to live there, fishing and planting rice, burning charcoal, and raising cows. Most of the residents are now in their eighties but they continue to farm, to fish, to forage the sea and the land and to perform the annual rituals and festivals that hold the community together. The film follows several of the villagers over the course of ten years and celebrates the wisdom, humour and fortitude of the people who live in this remote but beautiful part of Japan. It is also a personal meditation on time, nature, and mortality.

John Williams has lived in Japan since 1988. He has produced, written, and directed both narrative and documentary films and has won multiple awards at international film festivals.

Followed by a Drinks Reception

All welcome

Contact: Dr Des O'Rawe

Recent Events

Channel 4, Northern Ireland, and the Long 1980sFlyer for C4 NI and the long 80s Event

To coincide with the Channel 4: 40 Years of Revolution season at the BFI, the Queen’s Centre for Documentary Research, in association with the Belfast Film Festival, and the Institute of Irish Studies, has organised a symposium to explore the role of Channel 4 in supporting community-based and socially committed film production in and about Northern Ireland during the channel’s early years.

Confirmed speakers include:
Anne Crilly (director of Mother Ireland, 1988), Rod Stoneman (former commissioning editor Channel 4 Independent Film and Video Department), Cahal McLaughlin (filmmaker and Professor of Film at Queen’s), and Sylvia Stevens (producer, director, and co-founder of Faction Films).
The discussion will be chaired by Hugh Odling-Smee (Film Hub NI).

Date/Time: Saturday 12th November: 2-4:30pm
(There will also be a screening of Ireland: The Silent Voices before the symposium at 12:15pm, in the Film Studio)

Venue: QUB Film Studio, 20 University Square.

Registration: Free (contact Des O’Rawe for further information, and to register:

Alongside the symposium, Belfast Film Festival will be screening Ireland: The Silent Voices (Rod Stoneman, 1983) on 10th November 7:00pm @The Beanbag Cinema;
and Mother Ireland (Anne Crilly, 1988, 52 mins.) on 12th November at 10:30am in QFT.

Please book separately for these screenings.

'Right Now I Want to Scream: Prof Cahal McLaughlin and UU's Siobhán Wills interviewed on Canada’s CTV', 2021
Watch Canada's CTV News's Angie Seth interview with Directors Cahal McLaughlin and UU's Siobhán Wills on their AHRC funded film, Right Now I Want to Scream: Police and Army Killings in Rio. 

'DocsIreland Film Festival', 2021

Screening of two films in the Queens's Film Theatre (QFT) on 25th August 21 - Supported by the Centre for Documentary Research 

UltraViolence investigates the deaths of Black people in UK police custody, with director Ken Fero attending a Q&A

Solidarity by visual artist, Lucy Parker, on the blacklisted trade unionists in the UK construction industry


‘Hiroshima on Film’, 2021

An illustrated talk by Maurizio Cinquegrani, University of Kent; chaired by Katerina Flint-Nicol, Film Studies, AEL

For more information

'Right Now I Want to Scream', 2021 

Insightful and empathetic review of the story of the mothers who lost their loved ones to state violence in Rio de Janeiro

In April 2021 the documentary won Best Documentary Feature Film at the Five Continents Film Festival  This is the 8th Best Feature Documentary Award this film has won. 

"Ivor", 2021 Don Duncan receives significant press coverage

The Belfast Telegraph, The News Letter, The Irish News and Belfast Live have all covered the animated mini-documentary "Ivor", co-directed and produced by CDR member, Don Duncan. Meon Eile, an Irish language news service, also produced this in-depth interview with Don about the process of putting together the factual mini-documentaries in this series.

The animation has also been published on the Queen's Film Theatre QFTPlayer.

‘Wide media coverage for Don Duncan's factual animation "Gail"’, 2020 Don Duncan

The Belfast Telegraph, the BBC, Northern Visions TV and RTÉ have all covered the animated mini-documentary "Gail", co-directed and produced by CDR member, Don Duncan. The film also screened at the QFT cinema in Belfast as a pre-feature short and is currently available to watch on the QFT player

'Talk on 'Wang Bing’s 15 Hours and the Chimera of Endlessness', 2020

Talk by Dr Erika Balsom, Kings College London in the Queen's Film Theatre, QUB.

Picture: Still from Wang Bing’s 15 Hours and the Chimera of Endlessness

'The Whistleblower', 2019 Frank Delaney

Frank Delaney’s The Whistleblower (2019) won the New York Radio Awards Silver Media Human Rights Category and on Amnesty International Global Media Awards Shortlist.

More Information on the Whistleblower

'Armagh Stories: Voices from the Gaol', 2019 

Discussion after a screening of the film at Market House Theatre, Armagh, 2019. For more information visit

‘Citizenship and Surveillance: the Camera as Witness', 2017

A one day international conference, in collaboration with the Documentary Film Institute, State University of San Francisco.

Picture: Participants at the ‘Camera as Witness’ conference (2017)

'Residency for Brazilian documentary filmmaker', 2017 Maria Augusta Ramos 

For more information visit Belfast Brazilian Cineclub

Picture: Still from Maria Augusta Ramos’s Morro Dos Prazeres (2014)

Ethnographic and Participatory Documentary for Social Development:
concepts, methodologies and impacts.

January 11-23, 2023 - online and live at Queen's University Belfast
This two-day symposium will explore how ethnographic and participatory documentary may be positively affecting people's lives and environments around the world, whilst questioning the very concept of sustainable development.
A Selection of Recent Outputs

"Ivor", 2021 Don Duncan 

Don Duncan has co-directed and produced the second in his "Ulster Gaelic: It's Yours Too!" series of animated mini-documentaries about the experience of unionists and Protestants learning Irish in Belfast. This second animation tells the story of Ivor Reid, a unionist man from East Belfast. Ivor's experience of the Irish language was as one associated with fear and violence. This animation is his story of how that view moved from fear to love...

Produced with Belfast-based animation company Enter Yes and in conjunction with the NGO Turas

You can view the film here


"Gail", 2020 Don Duncan

Don Duncan has co-directed and produced the first in a series of animated mini-documentaries about the experience of unionists and Protestants learning Irish in Belfast. This first animation tells the story of Gail, a woman from East Belfast who attended her first Irish class seven years ago and is now a second-year student studying Archaeology and Irish at Queen's.

Produced with Belfast-based animation company Enter Yes and in conjunction with the NGO TURAS

You can view the film at

'Excavating Hidden and Forgotten Pasts with Sound', 2020 Don Duncan
Article by Don Duncan that that looks at sound and work he has been undertaking on a recent experimental documentary hybrid. 

Don Duncan

'All That is Solid Melts Into Air', 2019 Don Duncan

Don Duncan presented a documentary/live performance at the HearSay Festival, Belfast.

For more information visit


'Mental Abuse Matters', 2019. Animation and website by Lucy Baxter

Lucy's 'Conversation' article is available at the following link and the film on the QFT iplayer at the following link MentalAbuseMatters 


'Hydebank', 2019 Ross McClean 

Hydebank was part of the 'Made in Northern Ireland' spotlight for Hot Docs in Canada:

For more information visit


'It Stays With You: Use of Force by UN Peacekeepers in Haiti', 2018

Funded by the AHRC, this interdisciplinary film uses participatory practices to provide a platform to those whose loved ones were killed by peacekeeping missions during 2004-7). Awarded ‘Best Director’ by Respect Human Rights Film Festival. See


‘The Water Tower’, 2018 Elspeth Vischer

A portrait of traveller, motorcyclist and architect, Elspeth Beard. Selected for Film Devour as part of Belfast Film Festival (2019), Women Over 50 Film Festival, Lewes ( 2019), and WANDA Feminism and Moving Image Festival, The MAC, Belfast (2019).

Journals of Interest
Contact us