The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival 2018 is fast approaching, kicking off on 21st March right through until 24th, bringing the joy of sound and silent film to the community of Bo’ness.

Alison Strauss, Director of the Festival, spoke to The Fountain about her anticipated highlights, what makes HippFest different and the appeal of a film festival as specialist as this one.

TF: You have just released your Hippodrome Silent Film Festival programme, you must be excited?

We are indeed. The programme gestates over at least a year and it is always a bit nail-biting when we release details to the world, but so far the reception has been fantastic, with some of the events near to sold out already. The programme seeks to appeal to folk that might be new to silent film, as well as those who are already fans, which can be quite a delicate balance to strike. I really think we have continued to achieve just the right mix of familiar names and complete unknowns, classics like Laurel and Hardy’s Big Business alongside a film from the Chinese Film Archive which has never been seen in Europe.

TF: And what are the events that you are keen to see yourself?

Of course I’m lucky to have seen all the films already but what will be new for me is the combination of the live music with the films. I’m particularly looking forward to the New Found Sound Event (Sun 25 March) and hearing what the young composers from St Mungos High School have created to accompany Holiday Hurrah by the Scottish amateur filmmaker Frank Marshall, and the arrangements by the Falkirk Trad Bands for two utterly charming shorts from the National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive. It always blows me away how well the young people do, not only composing for the first time, but also conducting. The results are outstanding and at last year’s festival the New Found Sound event it scored an impressive 94% in our Audience Awards with 81% awarding it five stars! And it’s wonderful to see such lovely treasures from the NLS Moving Image Archive, up on the big screen, shown to their best advantage. There is one film I haven’t see this year and that’s because it hasn’t been made yet! During Feb and March care experience young people from the Falkirk area will be creating their own silent stories when they work with filmmakers from Screen Education Edinburgh. This filmmaking programme will train young people in the key aspects of film making from camera to screen writing, directing and editing and their first work will be premiered at the New Found Sound event. Very exciting.

TF: And it all takes place out in Bo’ness, what made you choose there as your festival location?

Bo’ness is home to the Hippodrome Cinema that I programme year-round. It is Scotland’s first purpose-built picture house and is the perfect venue for a Festival of Silent Cinema which brings together the heritage of the building with the heritage of the film medium itself.

TF: And what is the history behind the cinema, as it has been long running and preserved?

See here for full details.

TF: What is it about this festival which makes it unique to any other film festival in Scotland?

HippFest is Scotland’s first and only festival celebrating silent cinema, centred in the beautiful Hippodrome, Scotland’s first cinema. It is also unique for its inclusive atmosphere and non-hierarchical approach to silent film, exceptional and out-of-the ordinary cinema experiences, and valuable and productive partnerships between the community, artists and audiences. The festival isn’t just parachuted in from nowhere once a year but is really embedded in the community. That’s why we were awarded special mention for Best Practice in Creative Regeneration at the SURF Awards 2016.

For more information on the programme and to book tickets, click here.