Media Release: Silence is golden! Scotland’s only silent film festival honours 100 year-old cinema

SCOTLAND’S only silent movie festival is returning to what is believed to be the country’s oldest purpose-built picture palace – in March this year, when the beautifully-restored Hippodrome in Bo’ness will be the first cinema in Scotland to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

The full programme for the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema will be announced at the cinema on Tuesday 7th February 2012 at 10:00 hrs.

The festival will run from Friday 16th March to Sunday 18th March and feature the movies of silent era stars such as Harold Lloyd, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Laurel and Hardy and former Ziegfeld girl Marion Davies playing a character called Peggy Pepper – surely name-checked by Peppy Miller, the heroine in the new silent film sensation, THE ARTIST.

Tickets for the Festival will go on sale from Tuesday 7th February with a Festival Saver deal available – buy six or more tickets for a 15 per cent discount.

For the Jeely Jar Special family screening of Harold Lloyd’s SAFETY LAST!, audiences are also encouraged to bring along a clean jam jar (and matching lids) for a two-for-one 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.

The Opening Night Gala film will be SHOW PEOPLE (1928): a sparkling Hollywood comedy starring (and produced by) the striking Marion Davies, famous as one of MGM Studios’ most accomplished comedy stars and infamous as media mogul Randolph Hearst’s long-time mistress.

Inspired by the career of Gloria Swanson, the film is the quintessential Hollywood satire as Davies plays a country girl eager to transform herself into a movie starlet.

Her wickedly humorous performance is matched by that of co-star William Haines and a host of silent film star cameos, including Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and King Vidor.

Audiences are encouraged to add sparkle to the ‘champagne’ reception with the evening’s dress code: Hollywood film star.

Festival organisers are also pleased to announce that pianist Neil Brand will be returning to the Hippodrome to accompany the Opening Night Gala film and the Jeely Jar Special family screening of SAFETY LAST! (the film the young stars of Scorsese’s HUGO sneak in to the cinema to see).

One of the UK’s finest silent film accompanists, Neil was a hit with 2011 Hippodrome Festival audiences and comes to Bo’ness as part of a busy schedule of silent film engagements around the world.

As part of the centenary celebrations this year, the Hippodrome Festival is delighted to welcome a wide range of performers, films and new commissions.

Award-winning silent film pianist Stephen Horne will be performing, with his trio, his critically acclaimed score for the Scottish premiere of a major new BFI National Archive restoration THE FIRST BORN, an unsettling melodrama written by the wife of Alfred Hitchcock: Alma Reville.

Stephen will also be accompanying the triple bill event ANOTHER FINE MESS WITH LAUREL AND HARDY and THE KEYSTONE CONNECTION, an entertaining evening of rare celluloid gems – including the Scottish premiere of a long lost Stan Laurel two-reeler – curated for the Festival by silent comedy expert David Wyatt who will explore the influence of Keystone Studios, also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Other Festival highlights include: revival of the live film narrator tradition (or Benshi, as it is known in Japan) by renowned storyteller, Andy Cannon, and cellist, Wendy Weatherby, in THE LOST ART OF THE FILM EXPLAINER; the return of Falkirk’s talented secondary school music students in NEW FOUND SOUND; workshops with the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra and the Clanranald Trust (professional swashbucklers who have choreographed fights alongside the likes of Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner); one of the last British silents, the chilling A COTTAGE ON DARTMOOR; and acclaimed pianist Jane Gardner and percussionist Hazel Morrison accompanying the Closing Night Gala film THE BLACK PIRATE – the ultimate swashbuckling movie starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in a glorious two-strip Technicolor restoration courtesy of international distribution company Park Circus.

“With over 1,500 attendees in three days, the 2011 Hippodrome Festival was a huge success and we got overwhlemingly positive feedback from our audiences.” said Festival director, Alison Strauss.

“In this centenary year, it’s been our ambition to match the great experience people had and to bring the audience event more: more world-class musicians and guests, three Scottish premieres and three new commissions. We’ll be marking the Hippodrome’s centenary with a year long programme of special events so the Festival will be a great start to the celebrations.”

Ian Scott, chair or Falkirk Community Trust, stated: “This year’s Festival of Silent Cinema is a fitting way to mark the 100th anniversary of the Hippodrome, a special venue at the heart of the local community. There is something in the programme for everyone, young and not so young, and it exemplifies the wonderful cinema experience the Hippodrome offers all year-round.”

As one of the key funders of the Hippodrome Festival, Ron Inglis, director of Regional Screen Scotland, added: “The second Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema offers a fantastic programme with screenings, workshops and musical performances to celebrate the world of silent movies.

“The Hippodrome provides the perfect setting for this festival and we are delighted that the success of last year’s festival is being built on and supported by the town.

“We believe that the Festival team are developing a strong new addition to the Scottish film festival world which we expect will continue to grow in importance.

“Moviegoers are getting the opportunity to see something very special at this Festival.”


Contact: David Grindlay, Senior Press Officer – 01324 506055,
Contact: Shona Thomson, Festival Producer or Alison Strauss, Festival Producer – 01324 503740 / 07921 942230,

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Contact: Shona Thomson
Phone: 07921 942230