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Dawson City: Frozen Time
Directed by Bill Morrison • 2016 • United States
This astonishing meditation on cinema’s past from Bill Morrison 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 one hundred thousand 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 working its way through a parking lot dug up a horde of film cans. Morrison draws on these rare, permafrost-protected 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 chronicles the life cycle of a singular film collection through its exile, burial, rediscovery, and salvation.