Highlights of 2015's Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema
Mark Kermode's the Dodge Brothers, Neil Brand and Synthetic Sin amongst the picks of silent film festival programme
If you thought silent film was all about damsels in distress roped to railway lines and melodramatic piano accompaniment – well, admittedly some of it is. But Bo’ness’ Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema sets out to put a whole new slant on this unfairly neglected art form – and to introduce it to a whole new audience – by inviting an eclectic collection of musicians to create and perform live soundtracks to classic movies from the 1920s and 30s, or even earlier.
In its fifth anniversary year, some are silent movie aficionados (like film critic Mark Kermode with his rockabilly band the Dodge Brothers, or renowned silent movie pianist Neil Brand) with years of experience of making up accompaniments on the spot. But others – such as Borders folk fiddler Shona Mooney or klezmer five-piece Moishe’s Bagel – are working with film for the very first time.
Either way, the focus is on the interaction between the two art forms, and Bo’ness’ historic venue – the intimate, art deco Hippodrome, dating right back to 1912 – only adds to the ambience.
This year, things expand out from the Hippodrome screenings with the chance to sample recipes from the Joan Crawford Cookbook, rail-related films in a pop-up cinema at Bo’ness Station on the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, and even a late-night cabaret in a local pub.
Bo’ness, Wed 18–Sun 22 Mar.
Our top 5 picks at this year's Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema
Salt for Svanetia
Soviet propaganda meets Balkan klezmer jazz when Scottish quintet Moishe’s Bagel debut their new score to the 1930 Georgian documentary on a remote mountain people.
Borders fiddler Shona Mooney unveils brand new folk-inspired music for violin, accordion and guitar to accompany the 1927 battle-of-the-clans epic.
One of the first Westerns – from way back in 1916 – gets a live rockabilly soundtrack from Mark Kermode’s group the Dodge Brothers.
1929 gangsters-meet-flappers comedy featuring silent screen icon Colleen Moore, with music from respected silent movie pianist Neil Brand.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Storyteller Andy Cannon and musical assistants revive the lost art of the film explainer – part narrator, part actor, providing a unique theatrical interpretation of the movie – alongside the 1920 horror classic starring John Barrymore.