This is the ninth annual Hippodrome Silent Film Festival, otherwise known as ‘HippFest’, to be hosted within the country’s oldest purpose-built cinema.
Produced by Falkirk Community Trust with funding and support from Falkirk Council, Film Hub Scotland (BFI Film Audience Network), Creative Scotland and Visit Falkirk, the 2019 programme is packed with feature screenings, world-class live music accompaniment, talks, workshops and tours.
The five-day event opens on Wednesday, March 20 with a rare screening of Rob Roy, filmed in the Trossachs and nearby Stirling Castle in 1922 and accompanied by a new score commission, written and performed by multi-instrumentalist David Allison.
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The film features 800 men of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who were enlisted as extras for dramatic battle scenes.
Another highlight this year is the UK premiere of the restoration of Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles film from 1929.
It is the final Sherlock Holmes movie made in the silent era, lost for decades until ten years ago when a 35mm nitrate print of this version of the film was discovered in a basement belonging to a Polish priest.
The film will be screened twice during HippFest with live piano accompaniment from musician Mike Nolan and with English intertitles.
David White, chairman of Falkirk Community Trust, said: “We are delighted to launch our ninth HippFest programme which is packed with some of the world’s finest silent film restorations, accompanied by some of the most passionate and accomplished musicians working in this area today. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our core funders, local businesses, and all the film archivists, artists and musicians who work with the team at Falkirk Community Trust to make this festival one of Scotland’s great cultural events.”
Festival director, Alison Strauss said: “Hound of the Baskervilles is one of several feature films we will be screening that highlight the extraordinary achievements of co-operation between people and between nations during the silent era.
“Different languages were of little account at this time, when intertitles could be readily switched to match each screening location, and international casts and crews could work interchangeably across Europe and North America.
“We hope everyone enjoys our truly international theme this year and look forward to welcoming audiences from all over the world to Bo’ness to enjoy the festival.”
Mike Nolan, silent film musician added: “I really look forward to playing at this wonderful festival each year. Hound of the Baskervilles is full of moments of suspense, drama and fun and I am looking forward to bringing this wonderful film back into the limelight after such a long time.”
Sambrooke Scott, Film Hub Scotland Manager said: “HippFest offers a rare and thrilling alchemy of live music and archive film which weaves its magic in Bo’ness each year.
“The festival team consistently show that ‘silent’ film is anything but; creating and showcasing new scores for older film that excite audiences who come from near and far. The latest edition promises a host of highlights in a bumper edition and Film Hub Scotland is proud to be a supporter.”
Other festival highlights include the Scottish premiere of The Red Heroine which is the oldest surviving Chinese martial arts film, comedy horror favourite, The Cat and the Canary and the world premiere of restoration of Au Bonheur des Dames.
There there will also be a Laurel and Hardy triple bill, following the success of the recent box office hit, Stan and Ollie.
The Friday Night Gala is Forbidden Paradise, which also includes a champagne reception with live music by The Red Hot Minute Brass Band.
On the Saturday (March 23) a special double screening will take place at Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway of The Railroad Stowaways and The Railway of Death.
HippFest’s Youth Engagement programme this year includes primary school workshops on Foley sound effects, sessions with local youth clubs and a new short silent film produced by Falkirks Champions Board.
The ever-popular HippFest Festival Talks programme is also back, featuring UK and US academics, Toby Haggith and David Stuart Davies.
Tickets for all films and events can be purchased via the festival box office on 01324 506850 or online at www.hippfest.co.uk