Media Release: Shhh – silent screen stars return for Scotland’s first silent movie festival

PHOTOCALL – You are invited to send a representative/photographer to the launch of The Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema on Tuesday 1st February at 10am at the Bo’ness Hippodrome, 10 Hope Street, Bo’ness EH51 0AA.

Children from nearby Bo’ness Public Primary School will be in 1920s costume along with members of staff both inside and outside the cinema.

A silent movie will be showing and the following interviewees will be available to offer background on the cinema and the Festival itself:

Paul Eames – principal officer – Arts, Falkirk Council

Alison Strauss – festival director / Arts Development Officer (Film & Media), Falkirk Council

Shona Thomson – festival producer

Neil Brand will also be available for telephone interview by prior arrangement.

Refreshments will be available.

SCOTLAND’S first silent movie festival is coming to the country’s oldest purpose-built cinema in March this year when the restored Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness will host a weekend of rare and classic films, workshops, live musical performance, and special events aimed at celebrating the magic of silent cinema and the Hippodrome’s place within Scotland’s great tradition of cinema-going.

The full programme for The Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema will be announced at the cinema on Tuesday 1st February at 10:00 hrs.

The Festival will run from Friday 18th March to Sunday 20th March and will feature movies from stars of the early 20th century such as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy and the irresistibly charming Clara Bow.

Tickets for the Festival will go on sale from Tuesday 1st February with a variety of ticket packages available including a weekend-long Festival pass.

For the Jeely Jar Special family screening of Charlie Chaplin’s THE KID only, audiences are also encouraged to bring along clean jam jars (and matching lids) for a 2-for-1 ticket deal on the Saturday morning – a custom revived once a season by the Hippodrome when the cinema was reopened in April 2009 by Falkirk Council.

All events during the Festival will offer a unique cinema experience with live music accompanying films, special guests in attendance and even some audience participation.

The opening night gala will be a glamorous affair with a screening of the film that defined the 1920s: IT starring the sensational Clara Bow at the height of her career.

Rarely seen in British cinemas, IT is a sparkling comedy in which Bow stars as the original ‘It’ girl who knows exactly how to use ‘it’.

The dress code for the evening is 1920s glamour and the flapper style that defined a decade, so it’s a chance to dazzle and be dazzled.

One of the UK’s finest silent film pianists, Neil Brand will be coming to Bo’ness to host his critically acclaimed live show THE SILENT PIANIST SPEAKS and to provide live improvised piano accompaniment to IT, a programme of shorts entitled ANOTHER FINE MESS WITH LAUREL AND HARDY, Buster Keaton’s SHERLOCK JR., NEVER WEAKEN with Harold Lloyd and Scottish Screen Archive titles throughout the weekend.

Regarded as a leading expert in live music accompaniment for silent movies, Neil is a writer, performer and composer who has performed across the world and worked with TV comedian, Paul Merton, on his ‘Silent Clowns’ tour.

Other highlights of the Festival include: a selection of comedy gems from the Scottish Screen Archive, Scottish theatre company Plutôt la Vie’s Slapstick Workshop for everyone over the age of 12, and New Found Sound – the world première of a specially-commissioned soundtrack composed and performed by secondary school pupils from the Falkirk Council area.

The Closing Night Gala is a beguiling live performance by David Allison of The Island Tapes with F.W. Murnau’s NOSFERATU, the touchstone for all subsequent on-screen vampires.

Festival director, Alison Strauss, said: “The whole event is designed to celebrate the magic, glamour and pure entertainment of films from the silent era. Our programme and the supporting events include something for all ages and we’ve made sure that the wide appeal will involve a broad range of tastes, from cinephiles to anyone discovering early film for the first time.

“The setting for the Festival is wonderfully appropriate, with the rich history of Scotland’s oldest purpose-built cinema adding to the festival vibe and transporting audiences back to the time when movies were unrivalled in their popularity across the globe.

“The present-day notion of ‘stardom’ was born with the movie actors and actresses of the silent era, attracting astonishing levels of fan adoration.

“Seeing your favourite film star at the cinema was a regular part of millions of peoples’ lives and it’s going to be a real treat for audiences today to see those movie greats on the big screen again where they belong.”

As the festival’s funding supporter, regional screen Scotland’s director, Ron Inglis, said: “It is wonderful to see the glorious Hippodrome cinema presenting Scotland’s first  silent film festival.

“The Hippodrome is a perfect venue for such an occasion as has been shown by previous silent film screenings accompanied by live music. Regional Screen Scotland is proud to be associated with this festival which is a valuable addition to Scotland’s cinema calendar.”


Contact: David Grindlay, senior press officer, on 01324 506055

Notes to editors:

Festival Programme and further ticket information

Available at

The Hippodrome Cinema, Bo’ness

Designed by renowned architect Matthew Steele, the A-listed Hippodrome cinema re-opened in 2009 following a £2m refurbishment programme funded by the Scottish Historic Building Trust and is now run by Falkirk Council.  More information at

Opening Night Gala: IT (1927) – print source

This is a rare UK screening of a film print loaned by the British Film Institute’s National Archive.

Neil Brand, silent film pianist – further information

MEDIA RELEASE posted by Falkirk Council. You too can post media releases (aka press releases) on For more information, email here.

Contact: David Grindlay
Phone: 01324 506055