ON SCREEN // HOP FILM SPECIAL
Dawson City: Frozen Time
Bill Morrison presents this haunting, beautiful meditation on cinema’s past through a long-lost collection of films depicting a Gold Rush town in the early 1900s.
“Thrilling…indescribable not because it’s ambiguous (it’s totally straightforward) but because it does so many things so beautifully it is hard to know where to begin.” —Los Angeles Times
Discussion follows with director Bill Morrison
In this “instantaneously recognized masterpiece” (NYT), director Bill Morrison (The Great Flood, Decasia) 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 Yukon movie theaters. The films were seldom, if ever, returned.
The now-famous Dawson City Collection was uncovered in 1978 when a bulldozer excavating a parking lot dug up a horde of film cans, buried in a frozen swimming pool below. 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 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.
D: Bill Morrison, US, 2017, 2h