Movies. music and more as Bo'ness silent film festival unveils virtual programme

The wraps have come off this year’s HippFest which goes ahead online next month.

By Allan Crow
Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 12:30 pm
Hippodrome, Bo'ness
Hippodrome, Bo'ness

The tenth Hippodrome Silent Film Festival runs virtually from March 17-21 with its usual venue, the Hippodrome in Bo’ness, closed because of the pandemic.

It will be the first time the full programme has gone online, and it promises a mix of fans’ favourites and lesser known classics.

And, thanks to the new online format, audiences can also enjoy music from across the globe, including accompaniment from acclaimed international jazz musician Wycliffe Gordon and the Graves Brothers from the USA.

The festival is organised by Falkirk Community Trust.

Alison Strauss, director, said: “I am delighted to present our tenth HippFest a year later than we originally planned but no less of a milestone!

“It’s exciting to think that more people might take the plunge because attendance this year is as easy as turning up in your own front room. This is definitely one of the upsides of a virtual festival.

“While we will miss all being together under the star-studded ceiling of the Hippodrome we have tried to create a comparable cocktail of screenings with music, workshops, events and activities to sweep you up in the marvellous magic of early cinema.”

The festival will include a host of interactive initiatives including a silent film quiz and a chess contest, talks on the history of Scottish cinema during the 1918 flu epidemic, and a virtual tour of early Hollywood following in the footsteps of Scotland’s little known slapstick comic superstar Billie Ritchie, whose centenary falls this year.

It stars on Wednesday, March 17 with Body and Soul (1925) a film by Oscar Micheaux - one of the most successful African-American film makers of the early 20th century.

It also includes a rare screening of thrilling documentary Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life (1925) by the dynamic directing duo behind ‘King Kong.’

Silent film historian and writer Pamela Hutchison introduces the French Prix de Beauté (1930), starring iconic star of the silent era Louise Brooks, and the event also takes on a Mary Pickford theme with the Silver Screen Supper Cook-a-long, where viewers follow expert instruction to prepare her famous Enchiladas, washed down with a bespoke HippFest Cocktail created in association with Linlithgow Gin.

HippFest closes with a Russian silent comedy accompanied by John Sweeney. Queen’s Gambit fans will enjoy Chess Fever (or Shakhmatnaya Goryachka), a comedy about the 1925 Moscow Chess Tournament which includes footage from the tournament itself.

David White, chairman, Falkirk Community Trust said: “With so many of the Trust’s venues currently closed and our events programme on hold, it is great to see our flagship festival HippFest going ahead online.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Festival’s funders, local businesses, and all the film archivists, artists and musicians who are working with the teams at Falkirk Community Trust to make this happen.”

David Smith, director of Screen at Screen Scotland, added: “HippFest is a wonderful film festival. It breathes new life into silent cinema. With music accompanying every screening, the festival is a treat for film and music lovers alike.”

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