Dawson City: Frozen Time

Nominee
Venice Horizons Award ~ Best Film
Venice Film Festival
Thrilling...indescribable not because it's ambiguous...but because it does so many things so beautifully it is hard to know where to begin.

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Dawson City: Frozen Time

This meditation on cinema’s past from Decasia director Bill Morrison pieces together the bizarre true history of a long-lost collection of 533 nitrate film prints from the early 1900s. Discovered buried under the permafrost in a former Canadian Gold Rush town, their story conjures the forgotten ties between the fledgling film industry and Manifest Destiny in North America.

Located about 350 miles south of the Arctic Circle,
Dawson City was settled in 1896—the same year large-scale cinema projectors were invented—and became the center of the Klondike Gold Rush that brought 100,000 prospectors to the area. Soon after, the city became the final stop for a distribution chain that sent prints and newsreels to the Yukon. The films were seldom, if ever, returned. By the late 1920s, over 500,000 feet of film had accumulated in the basement of the local library. Much of it was eventually moved to the town’s hockey rink, where it was stacked and covered with boards and a layer of earth. The now-famous Dawson City Collection was uncovered in 1978 when a new recreation center was being built and a bulldozer working its way through a parking lot dug up a horde of film cans.

Morrison draws on these permafrost-protected, rare silent films and newsreels, pairing them with archival footage, interviews, historical photographs, and an enigmatic score by Sigur Rós collaborator and composer Alex Somers. Dawson City: Frozen Time depicts the unique history of this Canadian Gold Rush town by chronicling the life cycle of a singular film collection through its exile, burial, rediscovery, and salvation.
Genre
Documentary
Runtime
120
Language
English
Director
Bill Morrison
Awards:
Nominee, Venice Horizons Award ~ Best Film, Venice Film Festival
FEATURED REVIEW
J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader

Bill Morrison, whose extraordinary documentary 'Decasia' (2002) turned decomposing film stock into the stuff of avante-garde reverie, returns with another staggering journey into the past. In 1978 a construction crew in Dawson City, Yukon, uncovered hundreds of reels of silent film that were used as ...

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