Dawson City: Frozen Time pieces together the bizarre true history of a collection of over 500 nitrate film prints from the 1910s and 1920s, which were lost for decades until being discovered buried under a hockey rink in a former Klondike gold rush town. Using these rare silent movies and a rich sampling of newsreels and historical photographs, fused with an enigmatic score by Sigur Rós collaborator Alex Somers (Captain Fantastic), this haunting cinematic mosaic depicts the unique history of Dawson City by chronicling the life cycle of a singular film collection through its exile, burial, rediscovery, and salvation. In telling this story of “one of the most astonishing and unexpected bonanzas in cinematic history” (Lawrence Weschler, Vanity Fair), director Bill Morrison conjures the forgotten ties between the fledgling movie industry and Manifest Destiny in North America.
The films of Bill Morrison combine a documentarian’s thirst for uncovering hidden histories with an archivist’s obsession for recovering lost cinematic treasures. Morrison’s Decasia (2002) was heralded by Errol Morris as “the best film ever made” and critic J. Hoberman called it “the most widely acclaimed American avant-garde film of the fin de siècle.” His other notable films include The Miners’ Hymns (2011), a document of the early 20th-century coal mines of northern England, and The Great Flood (2013), a collaboration with Bill Frisell inspired by the Mississippi River Flood of 1927.