Directed by Bill Morrison (USA, 2017, 120 min.). Digital.
This meditation on cinema’s past from Bill Morrison, director of Decasia (2002), pieces together the bizarre true history of a long-lost collection of 533 nitrate film prints from the early 1900s. Located just south of the Arctic Circle, Dawson City was settled in 1896 and became the center of the Canadian Gold Rush that brought 100,000 prospectors to the area. It was also the final stop for a distribution chain that sent prints and newsreels to the Yukon. The films were seldom, if ever, returned. The now-famous Dawson City Collection was uncovered in 1978 when a bulldozer demolishing a parking lot dug up a hoard 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 Alex Somers, a composer and collaborator with Sigur Rós. 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.
“You don’t just watch Dawson City. You step into it to and draw back a magical curtain on the past, entering a world of buried memory that’s the precursor to our own.” — Owen Gleiberman, Variety
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