A rarely screened Scottish silent “masterpiece” is among the highlights of the 14th edition of the Hippfest Silent Film Festival, taking place at the Hippodrome Bo’ness next month.
The Rugged Island: A Shetland Lyric (1933) is a poignant “story documentary” about crofting families in Shetland from Glasgow-born film maker Jenny Gilbertson. Presented with a new music commission by Inge Thomson, an award-winning multi-instrumentalist and composer from Fair Isle, with Shetland-born Catriona MacDonald, funded by Creative Scotland National Lottery Open Fund for Organisations, it is described as “a tender and beautiful dramatisation of Shetland life.”
Elsewhere, the festival will also screen Peggy, a film that was once thought lost and gave a screen debut to Billie Burke, who later appeared as the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz. Peggy which follows New York socialite Peggy Cameron (Burke) as she moves to Scotland to live with her new guardian, “a man as stern and unyielding as the rocky hills of his native land.”
The festival will also gibe a nod to the transition to sound with an outdoor screening of hybrid-talkie The Flying Scotsman (1929) on the platform of the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway. A thriller set on the journey from London to Edinburgh, the film featured some early, dangerous stunt work and stars the iconic steam locomotive itself.
Lon Chaney and Jackie Coogan will also be making an appearance in one of the earliest known adaptations of Dickens’s work, Oliver Twist (1922) by Glasgow-born director Frank Lloyd.
Katharine Simpson from Screen Scotland said: “HippFest, held at Scotland’s first-ever cinema The Hippodrome in Bo’ness, is an unparalleled experience that stands out in both Scotland and the UK. This festival offers a one-of-a-kind blend of historic films from our cinematic legacy, complemented by live music, all curated and presented for today’s audience in engaging, fun, and meaningful ways.”
Named after its home cinema The Hippodrome, the festival takes place from March 20 to March 24.