Hippfest will return for storytelling in 2022

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival has been awarded funding from the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund to present a number of events that showcase the history of Scottish storytelling in film.

The Festival, known as HippFest, takes place annually at Scotland’s oldest purpose built cinema in Bo’ness, and will run from Wednesday 16 to Sunday 20 March 2022.

Its ‘Silent Cinema: Telling Old Stories, Singing Songs’ programme strand will open the Festival on Wednesday 16 March with the much anticipated World Premiere of a new restoration of The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots (1923) – an extremely rare British feature film full of intrigue, betrayal and scandal. The film was originally due to be presented as part of the 2020 Festival, but was cancelled because of the pandemic and remains unseen for nearly 100 years.

The screening will be narrated by storyteller Andy Cannon, with live musical accompaniment from Wendy Wetherby (cello and voice), Frank McLaughlin (guitar and pipes) and David Trouton (piano). Andy’s performance will be in the style of the Film Explainer; part-narrator and part-actor, the Film Explainer was a finely honed craft of the silent era.

Stood next to the screen, they enriched the films with an entertaining combination of background information, unique interpretation and theatrical storytelling. Often more celebrated than the screen stars for whom they spoke, the Film Explainer’s art has since been largely forgotten but will be brought to life by Andy and the musicians.

The film will be preceded by Queen of Hearts: Mary Queen of Scots in Popular Culture, an illustrated talk from author, storyteller, and Director of the Scottish International Storytelling Centre, Donald Smith: who will celebrate the Mary of legend, while inviting the equally interesting Mary of history to step out of the silver shadows.

The third event at HippFest as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories will be a new commission from a Scottish artist who will be invited to respond to silent films in the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive. This new commission will build on the success of the Festival’s previous commissioned work: actor, poet and singer-songwriter Gerda Stevenson, who was invited to draw inspiration from the films of Scottish explorer Isobel Wylie Hutchison (HippFest 2018); and storyteller Ewan McVicar who explored Scotland’s WW1 footage through traditional songs sung by soldiers, in sessions for primary pupils (HippFest 2014).

Events at Hippodrome Silent Film Festival 2022 will incorporate British Sign Language at performances and screenings, to further develop the Festival’s commitment to accessibility for D/deaf and disabled people.

Festival Director Alison Strauss said: /We are thrilled to be part of Scotland’s Year of Stories. Cinema is ultimately all about stories and HippFest delights in shining a light on Scottish tales in particular… Tales told by filmmakers, when the language of film story-telling was just being invented. Tales of romanticised folklore, century-old newsreel, or home-spun glimpses of domestic life captured in family movies. Thanks to the Community Stories Fund support we can bring audiences this magnificent programme strand, revealing Scotland on the silent screen, through fresh eyes.’

Marie Christie, head of development at VisitScotland said: ‘We are delighted to be supporting the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival through the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. Events play an important role in our communities as they sustain livelihoods and help to celebrate and promote our unique places, spaces and stories.

‘Themed Years are all about collaboration and Museums Galleries Scotland, National Lottery Heritage Fund and VisitScotland are pleased to work in partnership to create this fund to showcase community stories. By supporting events taking place within our communities, including HippFest, new opportunities with be provided for locals and visitors to come together and find out more about the diverse stories, past and present, that our communities have to share.’

Hippodrome Silent Film Festival 2022 will take place at the Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness, Wednesday 16 to Sunday 20 March.

Full programme information and tickets will be released in the New Year. For further information and updates visit hippfest.co.uk.

This event has been supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund is being delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival is organised by Falkirk Community Trust with key funding from Falkirk Council, supported by Film Hub Scotland part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI.

Find out more at www.hippfest.co.uk.