Hippodrome Silent Film Festival to tell Scotland’s stories in film

Falkirk Community Trust is delighted to announce that the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival (aka HippFest) has been awarded funding from the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund to present a number of events that showcase the history of Scottish storytelling in film.

The Festival, which takes place annually at Scotland’s oldest purpose built cinema in Bo’ness, will run from Wed 16 to Sun 20 March 2022. Its ‘Silent Cinema: Telling Old Stories, Singing Songs’ programme strand will open the Festival on Wednesday 16 March with the much anticipated World Premiere of a new restoration of The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots (1923) - an extremely rare British feature film full of intrigue, betrayal and scandal. The film was originally due to be presented as part of the 2020 Festival, but was cancelled because of the pandemic and remains unseen for nearly 100 years.

The screening will be narrated by storyteller Andy Cannon, with live musical accompaniment from Wendy Wetherby (cello and voice), Frank McLaughlin (guitar and pipes) and David Trouton (piano). Andy’s performance will be in the style of the “Film Explainer”; part-narrator and part-actor, the Film Explainer was a finely honed craft of the silent era. Stood next to the screen, they enriched the films with an entertaining combination of background information, unique interpretation and theatrical storytelling.  Often more celebrated than the screen stars for whom they spoke, the Film Explainer’s art has since been largely forgotten but will be brought to life by Andy and the musicians.

The film will be preceded by ‘Queen of Hearts: Mary Queen of Scots in Popular Culture’, an illustrated talk from author, storyteller, and Director of the Scottish International Storytelling Centre, Donald Smith: who will celebrate the Mary of legend, while inviting the equally interesting Mary of history to step out of the silver shadows.

The third event at HippFest as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories will be a new commission from a Scottish artist who will be invited to respond to silent films in the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive. This new commission will build on the success of the Festival’s previous commissioned work: actor, poet and singer-songwriter Gerda Stevenson, who was invited to draw inspiration from the films of Scottish explorer Isobel Wylie Hutchison (HippFest 2018); and storyteller Ewan McVicar who explored Scotland’s WW1 footage through traditional songs sung by soldiers, in sessions for primary pupils (HippFest 2014).

Events at Hippodrome Silent Film Festival 2022 will incorporate British Sign Language at performances and screenings, to further develop the Festival’s commitment to accessibility for D/deaf and disabled people.

Marie Christie, Head of Development at VisitScotland said: "We are delighted to be supporting the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival through the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. Events play an important role in our communities as they sustain livelihoods and help to celebrate and promote our unique places, spaces and stories. Themed Years are all about collaboration and Museums Galleries Scotland, National Lottery Heritage Fund and VisitScotland are pleased to work in partnership to create this fund to showcase community stories. By supporting events taking place within our communities, including HippFest, new opportunities with be provided for locals and visitors to come together and find out more about the diverse stories, past and present, that our communities have to share.”

Hippodrome Silent Film Festival 2022 will take place at the Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness, Wednesday 16 to Sunday 20 March.

Full programme information and tickets will be released in the New Year. For further information and updates visit hippfest.co.uk.

This event has been supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund is being delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival is organised by Falkirk Community Trust with key funding from Falkirk Council, supported by Film Hub Scotland part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI.

Media contact

For all media enquiries, please contact Festival Media Officer Hannah Bradley Croall [email protected] / 07580041899, or Emma Henderson [email protected].

More information

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 interest internationally. The event is organised by Falkirk Community Trust and supported with funding from Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI.


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 licenced 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. The cinema was recently awarded a grant from Screen Scotland’s Cinema Equipment Fund to further upgrade the projection and sound equipment. The Hippodrome was named ‘Best Cinema Experience in Scotland’ in the 2019 Scottish Hospitality Awards and shortlisted for ‘Cinema of the Year’ at the 2019 Screen Awards.

www.hippodromecinema.co.uk | 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. 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 | @screenscots

Film Hub Scotland - as part of the BFI's Film Audience Network, Film Hub Scotland are one of eight Hubs set up across the UK to extend film choice, increase and broaden film audiences, and enhance opportunities for audiences to engage with and learn about film.

Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 will celebrate and promote the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. Led by VisitScotland, the Year of Stories 2022 will sustain and build upon the momentum of preceding Themed Years, showcasing a nationwide programme of major events and community celebrations.

The Community Stories Fund will complement the Year of Stories 2022 Open and Partner Events Programme, shining a spotlight on the cultural heritage of Scotland’s communities, inspiring new stories of Scotland to be shared, and creating a year-long programme of events and activities. From icons of literature to local tales, Scotland’s Year of Stories encourages locals and visitors to experience a diversity of voices, take part in events and explore the places, people and cultures connected to all forms of our stories, past and present. 

Join the conversation using #YS2022 and #TalesOfScotland. Find out more at Scotland's Year of Stories 2022 | VisitScotland