Hippfest returns! You don’t know how happy it makes me to think about watching silent films with live music at the stunning Hippodrome in Bo’Ness.
The festival is held from Wednesday 16 to Sunday 20 March and the full toothsome lineup just dropped, as they say. Here are a few highlights, some of which have been postponed from the sadly cancelled 2020 edition. I am so ready.
- The Dodge Brothers accompany FW Murnau’s City Girl on Saturday night – this is the Scottish premiere of their brilliant score for this incredible, jaw-dropping Hollywood silent.
- Also on Saturday evening, multi-instrumentalist Stephen Horne and Elizabeth-Jane Baldry (harp) will premiere their musical collaboration on the stunning The Fall of the House of Usher (1928). This event will be reprised at the Barbican, London, on Sunday 10 April.
- The festival will close on Sunday with two incredible feature films. First, silent classic The Unknown with Lon Chaney and a very young Joan Crawford, accompanied by Jonny Best.
- Then something I am particularly excited about, after having first seen it in San Francisco: 1920’s Breton melodrama L’Homme du Large with musical accompaniment from John Sweeney (piano), Frank Bockius (percussion), and mesmeric live narration by film star Paul McGann. You can read my interview with McGann here.
- Friday night can mean only one thing, the HippFest Gala! Dashing duo Neil Brand and Frank Bockius will accompany The Mark of Zorro (1920), featuring Douglas Fairbanks lighting up the silver screen. How can you resist?
- The opening night film is another rescheduled treat, 1923’s The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots with narration from storyteller Andy Cannon, and live musical accompaniment from Wendy Wetherby (cello and voice), Frank McLaughlin (guitar and pipes) and David Trouton (piano).
- On Thursday night we can look forward to A Movie World Tour (1935-1939), which will present newly digitised 2K scans of seven award-winning amateur films that were sent on a “World Tour” in 1935. They will be screened with live musical accompaniment from students of the Reid School of Music (Edinburgh College of Art) and John Sweeney (piano).
- More treats to come earlier in the day on Friday. The Nasty Women programme brings a double-bill of cowgirl capers from this Gender Rebels strand: Texas Guinan stars as a a rancher in The Night Rider (1920); and Fay Tincher lives up to her billing in Rowdy Ann (1919). Both films will be introduced by yours truly.
- On Friday afternoon there will be a screening of the uncensored Belgian version of Dawn (1928): the story of British nurse Edith Cavell, played by Sybil Thorndike, who helped rescue over 200 Allied troops from German-occupied Belgium; with musical accompaniment from Stephen Horne (piano, flute, accordion), and Frank Bockius (percussion). Lawrence Napper will treat us to an illustrated talk on Wartime propaganda and peacetime diplomacy: Edith Cavell on Film 1915 – 1928 as well, which promises to be unmissable.
- There’s more across the weekend: including a Chaplin-Keaton double-bill on Saturday morning, and a Laurel-and-Hardy triple-bill on Sunday – it wouldn’t be Hippfest without them.
- There will be some less well-known films too, but don’t miss a tribute to the great British screenwriter Lydia Hayward, and a rarely screened Chinese film, A String of Pearls.
- Read the full programme here. I will see you in the Hippodrome!
- Silent London will always be free to all readers. If you enjoy checking in with the site, including reports from silent film festivals, features and reviews, please consider shouting me a coffee on my Ko-Fi page.