HippFest 2022: Bo’ness silent film festival returns with five days of movie magic

HippFest has unveiled its homecoming programme and a return to in-person screenings.

Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 4:37 pm

The 2022 Hippodrome Silent Film Festival will run from March 16-20 at the Bo’ness Cinema.

Falkirk Community Trust unveiled a packed programme this week as it counted down to the return of audiences after being staged virtually during the pandemic.

Classic silent films will feature some of the biggest stars from that era - including Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Buster Keaton, and Douglas Fairbanks - as well as new commissions for 2022.

Hippodrome, Bo'ness

There will also be live appearances from storyteller Marion Kenny and Scottish folk singer Mairi Campbell; musical accompaniment from The Dodge Brothers with Mark Kermode; and the much-anticipated live narration from actor Paul McGann.

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The return to the Hippdrome - Scotland’s oldest purpose built cinema - for the 12th annual festival was warmly welcomed by the organisers.

David White, who chairs Falkirk Community Trust said: “The programme is packed with interesting talks, high-profile film restorations, and musical accompaniment from some of the most accomplished musicians working in silent film.”

Sherlock Jr. (1924) (Pic: Cohen Film CollectionO

HippFest will launch with a world premiere of a new restoration of The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots (1923).

Rescheduled from 2020, the film forms part of its ‘Silent Cinema: Telling Old Stories, Singing Songs’ strand, three events programmed for Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022.

The film will be preceded by Queen of Hearts: Mary Queen of Scots in Popular Culture, a lively talk from Donald Smith; author, storyteller, and director of the Scottish International Storytelling Centre.

Thursday’s other event will take audiences around the world in seven films, with a specially curated programme to mark the 90th anniversary Institute of Amateur Cinematographers (IAC).

L’Homme du Large (1920)

HippFest’s Friday programme begins by celebrating more silver starlets of the silent era, beginning with welcoming the Nasty Women Programme to Bo’ness for the first time, with Gender Rebels.

It will also screen the uncensored Belgian version of Dawn (1928) - one of the most controversial films of the 1920s.

The gala evening slot will feature The Mark of Zorro (1920) starring Douglas Fairbanks .

The Mark Of Zorro

The weekend will also feature films starring Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton at their very best.

Saturday’s screenings finish with two bumper feature films. In the early evening The Dodge Brothers and Neil Brand perform the Scottish premiere of their new live musical accompaniment for F.W. Murnau’s lyrical and ravishingly beautiful drama, City Girl (1930).

And Stephen Horne (multi-instruments) and Elizabeth-Jane Baldry (harp) will premiere their musical collaboration on The Fall of the House of Usher (1928); a brooding and impressionistic adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s creepy Gothic tale of obsession and madness.

Sunday eases into the final day of the Festival, with a triple-bill from iconic comedy duo Laurel and Hardy; the recently re-discovered and restored Duck Soup (1927); classic comedy The Two Tars (1928); and the people’s choice as voted by the Hippodrome’s audience in 2020, Liberty (1929).

One of the earliest Chinese features finally gets a showing at HippFest on Sunday afternoon; A String of Pearls (Yichuan Zhenzhu) (1926) is based on Guy de Maupassant’s short story The Necklace, offering a fascinating look at rich, Westernised life in 1920s Shanghai.

HippFest 2022 will close with two star-studded features.

In the early evening there is Tod Browning’s jaw-droppingly macabre drama, The Unknown (1927); starring box office sensation Lon Chaney and superstar-in-the-making Joan Crawford. With Jonny Best on piano providing live musical accompaniment.

It’s followed by the much-anticipated finale from 2020, L’Homme du Large (1920) with musical accompaniment from John Sweeney (piano), Frank Bockius (percussion), and mesmeric live narration by acclaimed screen actor Paul McGann.

Talks will include film critic Mark Kermode in conversation with Mike Hammond and Neil Brand.

Alison Strauss, festival director at the trust, added: “We learned so much from HippFest online but now we are thrilled to be back in person -and so grateful to our audiences, musicians, and partners for sticking with us on that roller-coaster journey.

The team have combined the best bits of the digital adventure with the prized ingredients of HippFest, to make a winning formula of great films, great music, and great fun.

"It’s been a long time coming but now HippFest has come home!”

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