Now in its 13th year, the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival, affectionately known as HippFest, has screened some of history’s best and rarest cinema, bringing together world-class musicians and film experts to celebrate the variety of the silent era. This year’s programme is once again jam-packed with films to discover, from animation and comedy, to drama and romance.
The beautifully restored bijou pre-art deco picture palace, the Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness, dates back to 1912 and now has digital and 35mm projectors and a state- of-the-art sound system, a café and licenced bar, and plays the perfect host to another full HippFest programme for 2023.
The Blue Bird (1918) is the opening night feature. Before The Wizard of Oz, there was The Blue Bird – Maurice Tourneur’s fairy-tale fantasy about two children’s quest for the blue bird of happiness!
19:30 Wednesday 22nd March + HippFest at Home Live Stream
The Accidental Anthropologist: Benjamin T. Gault An extremely rare and precious silent film collection, depicting rural life in Ireland in the 1920s.
15:15 Thursday 23rd March + HippFest at Home Live Stream
Master of the House (1925) A gently funny battle of the sexes played out on a domestic scale by one of cinema’s greatest filmmakers.
14:00 Friday 24th March.
“The Only Woman Animator”: Bessie Mae Kelley and Women at the Dawn of the Animation Industry. The hitherto untold ‘herstory’ of woman animator Bessie Mae Kelley.
16:00 Saturday 25th March.
In Spring (1929) A city-symphony-style, avant-garde love-letter to Kyiv.
19:00 Saturday 25th March.
The Blue Bird performers, Sonic Bothy said “We’re thrilled to be performing The Blue Bird at The Hippodrome and look forward to sharing our distinct sound and process. The audience can look forward to an experimental soundscape with an eclectic array of instruments and voice.
“Sonic Bothy Ensemble have been exploring a series of moods and themes that reflect the theatricality of the film rather than traditional characterisation. Our compositional approach – broad brush strokes, loose structures and improvisation – gives us scope in the live performance to respond both directly to the film and to each other as an ensemble.”
Alison Strauss, HippFest Festival Director said “HippFest has grown to be a world class festival for silent film, cultivating a real community of people who share an adventurous appetite for extraordinary cinema and live music. We can’t wait to welcome everyone to explore the programme with us, and to come and be part of the unique atmosphere of the Festival, of Bo’ness and of the Hippodrome itself. The team has worked incredibly hard to pull together all the ingredients of HippFest that our audiences love, and this year the mix of great films, great fun and great music will be hard to beat.”
This year audiences travelling to Bo’ness can take advantage of the HippFest Shuttle Bus with daily transfers from Linlithgow Railway Station to the Hippodrome, pre-booking essential. For those looking to immerse themselves totally in the world of 1920s cinema, HippFest’s Friday Night Gala offers a ‘Champagne’ Reception screening of What Happened to Jones (1926) with musical accompaniment from Neil Brand (piano) and Frank Bockius (percussion). And afterwards take part in a vaudevillian celebration of the era, with performances from contortionist Minnie Knot, illusionist Cameron Gibson and drag artist GroundsKeeper Fanny. Dress code is cops and bishops, or whatever passes for HippFest glamour!
Festival Dates: Wednesday 22nd – Sunday 26th March 2023.
For further programme information and to book tickets, visit www.hippfest.com.