Q&A to learn about the sound of silents

A still from The Epic of Everest (1924)A still from The Epic of Everest (1924)
A still from The Epic of Everest (1924)
HippFest will be presenting a live online Q&A next week with musician Stephen Horne and Bryony Dixon, curator of silent film at the British Film Institute National Archive.

The Q&A at 8pm on Wednesday, September 22, is part of its fourth Taste of Silents season which will see The Epic of Everest (1924), with live musical accompaniment from Stephen, and GRASS: A Nation’s Battle for Life (1925) both screen on Saturday, September 25, at the Hippodrome.

This newly restored, remarkable official film record of the legendary Everest expedition of 1924 shows the third attempt to climb Everest which culminated in the deaths of two of the finest climbers of their generation, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, and sparked an on-going debate over whether or not they did indeed reach the summit.

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Stephen first started accompanying silent films at BFI Southbank over 25 years ago, and won ‘best online silent film screening of 2020’ in the Silent London Poll.

He said: “The Epic of Everest is - appropriately enough - a demanding film to accompany, primarily because of the sustained, measured pace.

"At the same time I find it beautiful, meditative and ultimately very moving. My aim will be to try and draw the audience into the film's tempo, so that they engage with the almost mystical elements that become increasingly important as it reaches its famous conclusion.”

GRASS: A Nation’s Battle for Life is a spectacular ethnographic record directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack – the directors of King Kong (1933).

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Originally intended for the lecture circuit, but snapped up by Paramount on the strength of its powerful dramatic punch, it's easy to see how the character of Denham in King Kong was modelled after the thrill-seeking directors, whose daredevil real-life exploits were the stuff of Hollywood adventure films.

Piano accompaniment is from Mike Nolan who works across Scotland as a composer, choral conductor and performer and is a regular of the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival.

For tickets and programme information for the Taste of Silents season visit www.hippfest.co.uk.

HippFest will return to the Hippodrome for its full festival programme in March.