Hippodrome Silent Film Festival launches 2019 programme

Today (Tuesday 5 February) tickets for the 9th Hippodrome Silent Film Festival, held at Scotland’s oldest purpose-built cinema in Bo’ness, go on sale.

Affectionately known as ‘HippFest’ this annual event produced by Falkirk Community Trust, is Scotland’s only festival dedicated to silent film and runs from Wed 20 – Sun 24 March 2019.

The Festival’s five day programme is packed with feature screenings, world-class live music accompaniment, talks, workshops and tours. One of this year’s highlights is the UK premiere of the restoration of Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles (1929) - the final Sherlock Holmes made in the silent era and missing, believed lost for decades. Boasting a truly international cast – six leads from six different countries, German director, Danish cinematographer and Scottish author - this film has all the mystery and fun an audience would expect, including spooky suits of armour, a dastardly villain creeping about the shadowy ancestral Baskerville home, foggy moors and of course, Watson alongside the world’s most popular detective in deerstalker hat.

The 35mm nitrate print of this version of Hound of the Baskervilles was discovered 10 years ago in the basement of a Polish priest and had long been the holy grail of the silent film world. The film was directed by German director Richard Oswald and this surviving print had only Czech intertitles. It was fully restored by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and Poland’s National Film Archive last year and premiered at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in June 2018. During HippFest the film will be screened twice with live piano accompaniment from musician Mike Nolan and with English intertitles.

Robert Byrne, President, Board of Directors at San Francisco Silent Film Festival said: “I am delighted to be coming over to Scotland to see Hound of the Baskervilles screened at HippFest. This was one of the most complicated reconstructions the SFSFF had ever undertaken – a German film, with Czech titles, in a Polish archive – it was never going to be easy, but the end result is startlingly good and an exciting interpretation of the Sherlockian classic, with very high production values and starring a truly international cast. I hope audiences in the UK enjoy it as much as they did in 1929.

Alison Strauss, Festival Director said: “We are delighted to be staging our 9th Hippodrome Silent Film Festival this March. Hound of the Baskervilles is one of several feature films we will be screening that highlight the extraordinary achievements of cooperation 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 said: “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.

David White, Chair of Falkirk Community Trust said: “Today we are delighted to launch our 9th 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 also 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."

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.”

Jennifer Armitage, Screen Officer at Screen Scotland said: “HippFest is a wonderful film festival that breathes new life into silent cinema. With live music accompanying every screening, the festival is a treat for film and music lovers alike. From The Red Heroine, the oldest surviving Chinese martial arts film to Rob Roy filmed in Scotland almost 100 years ago, this year's programme is rich and eclectic, offering a variety of film genres and musical styles from around the world.”

Other films screening this Festival include The Red Heroine (1929) – the oldest surviving Chinese martial arts film starring Fan Xuepeng who was one of the first stars of the genre and an influential figure in the Chinese film industry; the world premiere of a new restoration of Au Bonheur Des Dames (1930) which portrays all the glitz and glamour of a Parisian department store, and at the same time a damning portrait of rampant consumerism and the demise of small, local shops; the world premiere of the Imperial War Museum’s latest digital restoration project (following their high-profile collaboration with Peter Jackson on They Shall Not Grow Old): Peace on the Western Front; and a rare screening of Rob Roy (1922) filmed in the Trossachs and nearby Stirling Castle and accompanied by a new score commission, written and performed by multi-instrumentalist David Allison.

Further notable music commissions and collaborations include Jane Gardner, Roddy Long and Frank Bockius who will premiere a new score for Forbidden Paradise (1924) directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring screen-diva Pola Negri; Stephen Horne five times winner of the Silent London ‘best screening with a single accompanist award’ will close the festival with a new semi-improvised accompaniment for Hindle Wakes (1927) – a rousing British drama, set in Lancashire mill towns, about a strong-minded young woman who challenges the Edwardian values and sexual double standards of her community; a new score composed by Lillian Henley for silent film pioneer Lois Weber’s The Blot (1921); Norwegian/Scottish folk duo Marit Fält and Rona Wilkie who have been commissioned by HippFest to write their first-ever silent film score to accompany Laila (1929) - an epic-scaled romantic drama set in Norway amongst the Sami people; and German musicians Frank Bockius and Günter Buchwald who have been brought together to collaborate with British musician Jonny Best (the Director of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival), on lavish British-German co-production Moulin Rouge (1928).

Comedy highlights include slapstick star Harold Lloyd in The Freshman (1925); a late-night screening of haunted-house mystery The Cat and the Canary (1927) - described as Agatha Christie meets Scooby Doo with a generous dash of German expressionism; unexpectedly light-hearted comedy-drama in The Parson’s Widow (1920) from the famously dour Director Carl Theodor Dreyer; and, on the back of the new Stan and Ollie film, HippFest once again celebrates this comic duo’s early career with a triple bill of some of their finest moments.

The Festival’s talks programme, with UK and US academics, Toby Haggith from the Imperial War Museum, and Holmes expert (actor/novelist) David Stuart Davies, includes a look at The Birth of Horror, the rise of the spook era of the 1920s and the dark genius of Alfred Hitchcock; Holmes of the Movies – the world’s best known fictional detective as represented on screen; the rise of the peace movement after the war (Peace on the Western Front); and the changing roles of working women in the 1920s inKitty the Telephone Girl.

HippFest’s Youth Engagement Programme includes primary school workshops on Foley sound effects and how they can change our understanding of the meaning of film; workshops with local youth clubs; and a new short silent film produced by Falkirks Champions Board (young people who have been, or are currently in care) as part of Cashback for Creativity. At New Found Sound music students from schools in the Falkirk area will come together to accompany a selection of silents from the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive.

Finally, at Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway on Saturday night, Platform 2 will be the venue for one of the biggest tickets of the festival - action packed double-bill of The Railroad Stowaways (1926) (starring Perthshire-born Andy Clyde) and The Railway of Death (1912): a French Western, full of death-defying stunts, hi-jinks, shoot-outs and hijacked engines.

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival is organised by Falkirk Community Trust with key funding and support from Falkirk Council, Film Hub Scotland (BFI Film Audience Network), Creative Scotland and Visit Falkirk.

Tickets are on sale now via the Festival box office on 01324 506850 or the Festival website, hippfest.co.uk

For interviews, hi-res images and press tickets please contact Festival Marketing & Media Officer Emma Henderson on 07977134614 or emma@pi-communications.co.uk

Notes for Editors

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival (aka ‘HippFest’) was launched in 2011 and has since become a key annual event in the cultural calendar, drawing audiences from across Scotland and beyond, and generating significant UK-wide media coverage. The event is organised by Falkirk Community Trust with key funding from Creative Scotland and Falkirk Council. The 2018 festival saw over 2000 tickets sold, five shows completely sold out, and a string of four and five star reviews for a programme that set out to push the boundaries of what a silent cinema festival can offer.

The Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness is a stunning pre-art deco picture palace dating back to 1912. In 2009, following a major restoration, it was reopened with digital and 35mm projectors and a state-of-the-art sound system, a café and licensed bar, and is a four star VisitScotland attraction. The Hippodrome has a year-round screening programme of new releases, family blockbusters, classics, international, independent, archive and art-house films, www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org / www.hippfest.co.uk

Falkirk Community Trust is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status and was established by Falkirk Council.  On 1 July 2011 the company assumed responsibility for the management and operation of a range of community facing sport, recreation, arts, heritage and library services. As a not-for-profit organisation it strives to support community aspirations, deliver inspiring services and ensure that the experiences it offers provide equality of opportunity and access for all. www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org. Falkirk Community Trust gratefully acknowledges the support of Falkirk Council.

Screen Scotland is the dedicated partnership for screen in Scotland.  With £20 million from Scottish Government and the National Lottery, Screen Scotland is driving the cultural, social and economic development of all aspects of the sector in Scotland, through enhanced funding, services and support.  Screen Scotland sits within Creative Scotland and is a partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council, working in close collaboration with the sector to ensure its success. www.screen.scot