Bo’ness HippFest reveals its tenth anniversary programme

The programme for the 10th Silent Film Festival at the Hippodrome in Bo’ness has been revealed this week.

The annual event, affectionately known as HippFest, is Scotland’s only festival dedicated to silent film and its set to bring in the crowds once again when it takes place from March 18 to 22.

Organisers are delighted to announce the line-up of events for the festival and believe it could be the most successful HippFest yet.

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This year’s programme is packed with silent films featuring masked crusaders, real-life martyrs and mysterious femme fatales; world-class live music accompaniment, talks, workshops and tours.

Caped crusader Zorro, aka Kieran Ferguson from the Hippodrome team, helps launch the tenth HippFest. Pic: Lisa Ferguson.

Alison Strauss, festival director said: “We are thrilled to be celebrating our tenth edition, and so grateful to our audiences for joining us on the journey so far.

“Expectations are high but we are confident that this year’s HippFest will be our most successful yet.

“It’s not just the gripping stories – like edge-of-the seat war drama ‘Dawn’; the long-lost prestige pictures – like ‘The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots’; or the restoration premieres – like ‘Poil de Carotte’’s the activities, experiences, workshops and exhibition that brim out of the Hippodrome, bringing silent film fun into the schools, library, shops and streets around the area.”

And – in true Keystone fashion – a massive custard pie fight is set to kick off the festival.

Ms Strauss continued: “I’m particularly looking forward to our Custard Pie Fight!

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“‘Pieing’ was a staple of silent comedy and Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Behind the Screen’, showing at our popular Jeely Jar double-bill, was the first of many films to include extended pie-throwing battles.

“Chaplin’s Tramp character made his screen debut with Mack Sennett’s Keystone studio where they used so many pies they had to build their own bakery and Sennett coined the word “splurch” just to describe the expression on a pie-splattered face.

“We hope that hordes of people will take part in our Pie Fight to make it the biggest splurch-extravaganza ever.

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“Don’t worry about the mess...we’re substituting shaving foam for custard!”

All of the films screened at HippFest are accompanied by live music and for 2020 skiffle and blues band the Dodge Brothers – Mike Hammond, film critic Mark Kermode, Aly Hirji and Alex Hammond – return, alongside broadcaster, pianist and HippFest favourite Neil Brand performing the Scottish premiere of their new live score for FW Murnau’s City Girl (1930).

Always a highlight is the Friday gala screening, which this year is The Mark of Zorro (1920) with swashbuckling screen-idol Douglas Fairbanks as Don Diego Vega, aka Zorro the original caped crusader.

Audiences are encouraged to dress ‘Zorro-esque or HippFest glamour’ and are invited to enjoy the pre-screening birthday celebrations at a reception featuring SCotland’s own mariachi band, Rapido Mariachi.

Other highlights include actor Paul McGann providing live narration of the beautifully stylised, poetic intertitles that accompany the closing night screening of L’Homme du Large (1920), a powerful tale of a fisherman and his family living on the remote Breton coast and torn apart by their idle and degenerate son.

While Irine Røsnes will join Yorkshire Silent Film Festival’s Jonny Best with a new musical collaboration to accompany Marlene Dietrich’s The Woman Men Yearn For (1929); and UK-based Australian musician Meg Morley will accompany The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s new, 100th anniversary restoration of The Sentimental Bloke (1919).

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The festival will also feature the premiere of Laurel and Hardy’s recently restored Duck Soup (1927) (later remade with sound as Another Fine Mess), which will be screened with two other comedy classics Two Tars (1928) and Liberty (1929); and Danish superstar Asta Nielsen taking the lead role in Shakespeare’s best-known tragedy Hamlet (1921).

However, in this version Nielsen plays a cross-dressing Hamlet whose true sex is kept secret to secure the future of the throne.

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This screening is complemented by a talk on Silent Shakespeare from Pamela Hutchinson (writer, critic and founder of

David White, chairman of Falkirk Community Trust added: “We are delighted to present HippFest for its tenth year.

“This world-class festival is packed with distinctive community events and high-profile film restorations accompanied by some of the most accomplished musicians working in this unique field.

“The organisers have pulled together a programme to appeal to all ages, and reaching right across the community.

“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 teams at Falkirk Community Trust to make this Festival one of Scotland’s great cultural events.”

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

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To view the full programme visit