Hippodrome Silent Film Festival makes triumphant return to Bo’ness

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival, organised by Falkirk Community Trust, is celebrating the success of its 12th edition with the return of live and in-person events at the Hippodrome, Scotland’s oldest purpose built cinema, in Bo’ness.

HippFest 2022, as it is affectionately known, ran for five days from Wednesday 16 to Sunday 20 March; screening more than thirty films from the silent era, all with live musical accompaniment from some of the most accomplished musicians working in silent cinema today. 2022’s edition was a star-studded affair both on and off-screen, and audiences enjoyed compositions and improvisations from the likes of Neil Brand fora Charlie Chaplin / Buster Keaton double-bill, Mark Kermode and The Dodge Brothers for F.W. Murnau’s City Girl, Stephen Horne and Elizabeth-Jane Baldry for Jean Epstein’s The Fall of the House of Usher, Mairi Campbell and Marion Kenny taking audiences on a Journey to the Isles: Marjory Kennedy-Fraser, and more. As well as live narration and story-telling from acclaimed storyteller Andy Cannon as Film Explainer for The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots, and actor Paul McGann providing live translation of L’Homme du Large.

Andy Cannon at HippFest 2022. Credit: Tom Duffin

After holding the Festival online in 2021, HippFest 2022 introduced its first ever live streamed events, beaming selected content from its programme to homes across the UK and Europe with audiences tuning in from as far afield as Poland and Portugal. Author and storyteller Donald Smith regaled international audiences with the real story of Mary Queen of Scots, and Dr Lawrence Napper dissected wartime propaganda and peacetime diplomacy around the remarkable story of Edith Cavell.

In the Hippodrome, audiences were entertained by some of the best stars of the silver screen; Texas Guinan in The Night Rider in a Gender Rebels double bill; Douglas Fairbanks in the romping Friday Night Gala, The Mark of Zorro, which won the year’s audience award; Laurel & Hardy with a triple bill of classic comedy shorts; and Lon Chaney and rising star Joan Crawford in the twisted The Unknown directed by Tod Browning.

Other highlights of the Festival included a series of shorts from film makers from across the globe in Institute of Amateur Cinematographers Award-winners Film Programme (1935-1939); a deep-dive in the work of British screenwriter Lydia Hayward and screenings of The Boatswain’s Mate and Not For Sale; HippFest’s annual Platform Reels event screening Station Content, The Timber Queen, and The Lonedale Operator; and three shorts from the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive with live musical accompaniment from talented young musicians from Falkirk and the local area in HippFest’s New Found Sound initiative.

Reflecting on this year’s Festival, HippFest Director and Arts Development Officer (Film and Media) at Falkirk Community Trust, Alison Strauss said: “'We were thrilled to welcome audiences and artists back to HippFest. The atmosphere and the performances were outstanding and it was a joy to be in the cinema again, sharing a love of silent cinema.  The team really excelled this year, against challenging odds, and have pulled off one of the most enjoyable festivals in our 12 year history, whilst the local community got behind HippFest and showed the world what Bo’ness has to offer.  Long live HippFest!”

Screen Scotland’s Katharine Simpson said: “Hippfest is a unique event in Scotland, that this year has welcomed audiences back to the Hippodrome cinema in Bo’ness with a great atmosphere, excellent live music and true film gems on the big screen. It was a joy to be back in the cinema with Hippfest’s lively audience – especially to experience rare films and lost cinematic treasures. Screen Scotland would like to congratulate the whole team on another fantastic edition.”

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival will return in 2023, Wednesday 22 - Sunday 26 March. For more information and to sign up for updates visit www.hippfest.co.uk.

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival 2022 was 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. 

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 (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 with funding by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI.  HippFest’s 2021 online edition has been shortlisted in the Hearts for the Arts Awards 'Best Arts Project' category (National Campaign for the Arts).


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. Falkirk Community Trust services are transferring to Falkirk Council from 1st April 2022. www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org

Screen Scotland is driving the cultural, social and economic development of all aspects of Scotland’s film and tv industry through enhanced funding, services and support with backing from Scottish Government and The National Lottery.  Screen Scotland sits within Creative Scotland and works in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council to ensure the sector’s continued growth. screen.scot | Twitter | Instagram. Learn more about the value of art and creativity in Scotland at www.ourcreativevoice.scot.    

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. www.filmhubscotland.com

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