HippFest celebrates biggest year to date

Hippodrome Silent Film Festival 2024 celebrated its largest audience to date, with nearly 3,000 tickets issued for the Festival. 

Audiences travelled from across the country and internationally to the Festival in Bo’ness and enjoyed talks, workshops, an exhibition, and film screenings over the course of the five day event, Wednesday 20 - Sunday 24 March 2024. In total, 2,970 tickets were issued with an additional 1,390 views of the Festival’s online programme, HippFest at Home, which livestreamed talks and full-length features to audiences across the globe.  

Highlights of the programme included the glitzy Friday Night Gala screening of Mantrap, with post-film entertainment from Miss Behave and Debay De Lux; the Audience Award winning community screening of The Flying Scotsman at the Barony Theatre; Maud Nelissen’s jazz age accompaniment to Our Dancing Daughters; and Scottish director Frank Lloyd’s Oliver Twist, starring Jackie Coogan and Lon Chaney, with musical accompaniment from Neil Brand.

The premiere of a new score from Shetland musicians Inge Thomson and Catriona Macdonald for Scottish filmmaker Jenny Gilbertson’s (née Brown) The Rugged Island: A Shetland Lyric, saw an audience over 340 enjoying it in person and online, making it the largest audience the cinema has seen since the early twentieth century.

Inspired by the cinema in which it takes place, the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival is a champion for Bo’ness community and the Falkirk District. The Festival continued to prioritise accessibility for local audiences, young people, and deaf and hard-of-hearing people.  All spoken content was live captioned and the Opening Night live stream featured creative captioning to describe the musical accompaniment. The Festival’s Pay-it-Forward scheme ensured that carers and service users of Friends of Scottish Settlers were able to attend free of charge, and young audiences were supported through a range of ticket schemes, special events, and workshops. 

HippFest Director, Alison Strauss said: “The whole team are thrilled by the success of this year’s Festival celebrating silent film with live music… and what a celebration it was! With the difficulties we have seen in the cinema industry in Scotland these past couple of years, it is heartening to see audiences come out in such numbers for titles which are often obscure or unknown.

"Their faith has been rewarded by exceptional performances and films, and has made this year’s event our biggest yet. I’d like to thank everyone who participated, from the musicians and speakers, to the Festival team and staff of Falkirk Council, and most of all, everyone who joined us in person and online for HippFest 2024 - we’ll see you next year!” 

Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, Leader of Falkirk Council added: “Hippfest has always seen cinema enthusiasts attracted from across the world attending and helping to boost the local economy. It’s great to see they have had another successful year.” 

Sambrooke Scott, Head of Audience Development at Screen Scotland said: “We are thrilled that this year's HippFest has attracted record audiences for its stellar programme. It cements the festival's reputation as the home of silent cinema - live and on the big screen - in the immaculate setting that is the Bo'ness Hippodrome. We offer our huge congratulations to Ali and the whole team of staff and volunteers who make it possible, and for the loyal and new audiences who play such a vital role in the festival's continued success.” 

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival 2024 took place Wednesday 20 to Sunday 24 March 2024 at the Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness, Falkirk. HippFest will return next year for its 15th edition, Wednesday 19 - Sunday 23 March 2025. For further information and to sign up to receive news visit The HippFest website.


More information

Hippodrome Silent Film Festival

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 a project of Falkirk Council and is 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.      

The Hippodrome Cinema

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. 

Screen Scotland

Screen Scotland drives development of all aspects of Scotland’s film and tv industry, through funding and strategic support. 

Screen Scotland is part of Creative Scotland and delivers these services and support with funding from Scottish Government and The National Lottery.

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 in Scotland to engage with and learn about film. 

Funded by BFI and Screen Scotland, Film Hub Scotland support a network of over 230 film exhibitors to become truly inclusive, reaching as many new and existing audiences as possible. FHS is a project of Glasgow Film Theatre. 

Image credits

Header image courtesy of HippFest, credit Kat Gollock

Still from the Rugged Island and musical accompaniment courtesy of HippFest, credit Kat Gollock