HippFest preview will once again be staged at the Barony Theatre in Bo’ness

Elementary...Mike Nolan dressed as Sherlock Holmes after performing a short extract from his composition for the UK premiere at HippFest's press launch. (Pic: Michael Gillen)
Elementary...Mike Nolan dressed as Sherlock Holmes after performing a short extract from his composition for the UK premiere at HippFest's press launch. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

Tickets went on sale this week for the ninth outing of Scotland’s only silent film festival.

The programme for HippFest 2019 was unveiled on Wednesday night at the Hippodrome in Bo’ness.

Launch event...for HippFest director Alison Strauss, musicial Mike Nolan and producer Nicola Kettlewood.

Launch event...for HippFest director Alison Strauss, musicial Mike Nolan and producer Nicola Kettlewood.

Falkirk Community Trust invited local businesses and festival partners to preview this year’s programme, which runs from March 20 to 24.

Undoubtedly, one of the highlights this year is the UK premiere of the restoration of Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles (1929) – the final Sherlock Holmes made in the silent era.

It will be screened first at the Barony Theatre’s HippFest preview event on Saturday, March 16, with English intertitles and live piano accompaniment from musician Mike Nolan.

It is the third year the festival has teamed up with the Barony for a pre-cursor to the main event.

UK premiere...Hound of the Baskervilles will be previewed at the Barony Theatre as well as during the festival at the Hippodrome in Bo'ness.

UK premiere...Hound of the Baskervilles will be previewed at the Barony Theatre as well as during the festival at the Hippodrome in Bo'ness.

Wendy Turner, the chairwoman of the trustees, is delighted.

She said: “To be screening a UK premiere is fantastic for the theatre and will hopefully bring a new audience through our doors.

“The film will be introduced by Barry Young from the Sherlock Holmes Society of Scotland.

“And the Barony Players will be doing a ten minute live performance from Ken Ludwig’s Holmes-inspired play, The Game’s Afoot.

“The festival is fantastic, not only for the theatre but for the town as it attracts new people into Bo’ness.

“I’m also interested to hear how Mike depicts the hound on the moor, which is quite chilling, on the piano.”

Mike Nolan is delighted to be providing the score.

He said: “Hound of the Baskervilles is full of moments of suspense, drama and fun.

“I am looking forward to bringing this wonderful film back into the limelight after such a long time.”

Discovered 10 years ago, the 35mm nitrate print of this version of the film has long been the holy grail of the silent film world.

It was directed by Richard Oswald and the surviving print had only Czech intertitles.

But it was fully restored by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and Poland’s National Film Archive last year and premiered at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in June 2018.

As well as the preview, the film will be screened during the festival on March 21.

Much like HippFest itself, it boasts a truly international cast – six leads from six different countries, a German director, a Danish cinematographer and a Scottish author.

Alison Strauss, festival director, said: “Hound of the Baskervilles is one of several feature films we will be screening that highlight the extraordinary achievements of co-operation between people and nations during the silent era.

“Different languages were of little account at this time, when intertitles could be readily switched to match each screening location, and international casts and crews could work interchangeably across Europe and North America.

“We hope everyone enjoys our truly international theme this year and look forward to welcoming audiences from all over the world to Bo’ness.”

HippFest will boast two world premieres this year – a new restoration of Au Bonheur Des Dames (1930) and the Imperial War Museum’s latest digital restoration project, Peace on the Western Front.

On Saturday, March 23, Platform 2 at Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway will be the venue for one of the hottest tickets of the festival – an outdoor double-bill of The Railroad Stowaways (1926) and The Railway of Death (1912).

Other highlights include the Red Heroine (1929), the oldest surviving Chinese martial arts film starring Fan Xuepeng, and a rare screening of Rob Roy (1922) which was filmed in the Trossachs and at Stirling Castle which will be accompanied by a new score commission, written and performed by multi-instrumentalist David Allison.

Comedy highlights include slapstick star Harold Lloyd in The Freshman (1925); a late-night screening of haunted-house mystery The Cat and the Canary (1927); and, on the back of the new Stan and Ollie film, HippFest once again celebrates the comic duo’s early career with a triple bill of their finest moments.

The talks programme includes the rise of the spook era of the 1920s and the dark genius of Alfred Hitchcock.

David White, Falkirk Community Trust chairman, said: “We would like to thank our core funders, local businesses and all the film archivists, artists and musicians who work with us to make HippFest one of Scotland’s great cultural events.”

For full details of this year’s five-day programme, visit www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org/venues/hippodrome/silent-cinema.