Good news, Silent Londoners. Today is the day that Hippodrome Silent Film Festival announces the lineup for its 2023 edition!
As previously reported, the event runs 22-26 March 2023 and this year, there are festival passes available for the dedicated Hippfest die-hards. The best of people, in other words.
As I say, the full lineup goes live today, and you will be able to browse it at your leisure. Below: a few highlights from my little brain.
The opening night film is The Blue Bird (Maurice Tourneur, 1918) one of the most beautiful American silent films, a fantasy adventure for children (and the young at heart). I cannot think when I last saw a screening of this one advertised. Really exciting. Live music comes courtesy of Sonic Bothy, “an inclusive new music ensemble that explores, composes and performs experimental and contemporary music”. Sounds wonderful.
Conrad Veidt! In one of the coolest of cult silents: The Man Who Laughs (Paul Leni, 1928), a masterpiece of American Expressionist melodrama, with live musical accompaniment from pianist Meg Morley and percussionist Frank Bockius. This will be wild on the big screen. Great to know too that David Cairns will be in conversation with Chris Heppell from Changing Faces, so talk about this film, and other depictions of facial difference on the big screen. This event will be titles: “All Faces are Masks”: Visible Difference in Silent Cinema.
Babylon? We Brits can do a little better than that. Anthony Asquith’s behind-the-scenes melodrama Shooting Stars (1928) closes the festival, with Stephen Horne accompanying. Such a fabulous film, and a tribute to the silent era – there couldn’t be a better choice.
I could not be happier to say that Ukrainian musicians Roksana Smirnova and Misha Kalinin will present the UK premiere of their score for Mikhail Kaufman’s In Spring (1929). I loved this in Tromsø last year and wrote about it here.
Hippfest attracts international guests don’t you know? And this year, you won’t want to miss Kathy Rose O’Regan of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and her presentation of the footage taken by American naturalist Benjamin T. Gault during his time in west Kerry and Cork. O’Regan, who directed the digitisation of the films, will reveal how the films were found and what they can tell us about Ireland’s past and present.
One of my hands-down favourite from Pordenone 2022, part of the Ruritania strand, is coming to Hippfest and I am so thrilled to see it again. His Majesty the Barber (Ragnar Hyltén-Cavallius, 1928) is the Ruritanian hair-bobbing romp you didn’t know you needed in your life. Last year I described it as “gleefully hilarious throughout” – which is quite the recommendation! John Sweeney will take the lead on piano for this.
The Friday night gala will be a hoot, with Neil Brand and Frank Bockius accompanying a frenetic comedy, What Happened to Jones? (William A. Seiter, 1926) with the marvellous Reginald Denny proving the point of all those Cary Grant comparisons. And this should be the perfect excuse to dress up ourselves.
PS. Am so proud to say I will be introducing a screening of Carl Th Dreyer’s note-perfect domestic dramedy, Master of the House (1925), with the brilliant John Sweeney playing live.
All this and more, including Rin Tin Tin, Native American film The Silent Enemy (1930), Bessie Mae Kelley, trains, Chinese cinema, Laurel and Hardy, a dog with false teeth in… and oh, you get the picture. See you in Bo’ness!
- Congratulations! The Hippodrome won the Silent London award for the Best Silent Film Venue of 2022. It would be rude not to visit.
- Visit the Hippfest website to find all the details when they are live and booking is open.
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