Bo'ness, Scotland. The Hippodrome Cinema in Bo'ness. was host to the Silent Film Festival Hippfest2022.  Tom Duffin Photographer.

Hippfest film event returns to great acclaim

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival is celebrating the success of its 12th edition with the return of live and in-person events.

These were held at the Hippodrome, Scotland’s oldest purpose built cinema, in Bo’ness.

Organised by Falkirk Community Trust, HippFest 2022, as it is affectionately known, ran for five days from Wednesday 16 to Sunday 20 March; screening more than 30films from the silent era, all with live musical accompaniment from some of the most accomplished musicians working in silent cinema today.

2022’s edition was a star-studded affair both on and off-screen, and audiences enjoyed compositions and improvisations from the likes of Neil Brand fora Charlie Chaplin / Buster Keaton double-bill, Mark Kermode and The Dodge Brothers for F.W. Murnau’s City Girl, Stephen Horne and Elizabeth-Jane Baldry for Jean Epstein’s The Fall of the House of Usher, Mairi Campbell and Marion Kenny taking audiences on a Journey to the Isles: Marjory Kennedy-Fraser, and more. As well as live narration and story-telling from acclaimed storyteller Andy Cannon as Film Explainer for The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots, and actor Paul McGann providing live translation of L’Homme du Large.

You can hear guest Paul McGann chatting about the event in this week’s Scottish Field podcast HERE.

Paul McGann narrating (Photo: Tom Duffin)

After holding the Festival online in 2021, HippFest 2022 introduced its first ever live streamed events, beaming selected content from its programme to homes across the UK and Europe with audiences tuning in from as far afield as Poland and Portugal.

Author and storyteller Donald Smith regaled international audiences with the real story of Mary Queen of Scots, and Dr Lawrence Napper dissected wartime propaganda and peacetime diplomacy around the remarkable story of Edith Cavell.

In the Hippodrome, audiences were entertained by some of the best stars of the silver screen; Texas Guinan in The Night Rider in a Gender Rebels double bill; Douglas Fairbanks in the romping Friday Night Gala, The Mark of Zorro, which won the year’s audience award; Laurel & Hardy with a triple bill of classic comedy shorts; and Lon Chaney and rising star Joan Crawford in the twisted The Unknown directed by Tod Browning.

Other highlights of the Festival included a series of shorts from film makers from across the globe in Institute of Amateur Cinematographers Award-winners Film Programme (1935-1939); a deep-dive in the work of British screenwriter Lydia Hayward and screenings of The Boatswain’s Mate and Not For Sale; HippFest’s annual Platform Reels event screening Station Content, The Timber Queen, and The Lonedale Operator; and three shorts from the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive with live musical accompaniment from talented young musicians from Falkirk and the local area in HippFest’s New Found Sound initiative.

HippFest Director and Arts Development Officer (Film and Media) at Falkirk Community Trust, Alison Strauss said: ‘We were thrilled to welcome audiences and artists back to HippFest.

The Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness (Photo: Tom Duffin)

‘The atmosphere and the performances were outstanding and it was a joy to be in the cinema again, sharing a love of silent cinema. The team really excelled this year, against challenging odds, and have pulled off one of the most enjoyable festivals in our 12 year history, whilst the local community got behind HippFest and showed the world what Bo’ness has to offer. Long live HippFest!’

Lesley O’Hare, Culture and Libraries Manager at Falkirk Community Trust said: ‘It was an absolute delight to welcome audiences into the Hippodrome for the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival once again this year. HippFest has been a highlight of Falkirk Community Trust’s calendar for the past 12 years, and what a wonderful swansong event to have had as Falkirk Council takes over the management of Trust services from 1 April. Our heartfelt congratulations to Alison and the HippFest team on putting together such a inspiring event.’

Screen Scotland’s Katharine Simpson said: ‘Hippfest is a unique event in Scotland, that this year has welcomed audiences back to the Hippodrome cinema in Bo’ness with a great atmosphere, excellent live music and true film gems on the big screen. It was a joy to be back in the cinema with Hippfest’s lively audience – especially to experience rare films and lost cinematic treasures. Screen Scotland would like to congratulate the whole team on another fantastic edition.’

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival will return in 2023, Wednesday 22 – Sunday 26 March. For more information and to sign up for updates visit

The Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness is a stunning pre-art deco picture palace dating back to 1912.