Dawson City: Frozen Time

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USA | 2016 | 120 minutes | Bill Morrison

Pioneering filmmaker Bill Morrison pieces together a haunting chronicle of the transformations in a Yukon Territory Gold Rush town as told through a collection of rare nitrate stock films discovered buried under a hockey rink and untouched for over 50 years.

Friday, May 19, 2017

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SIFF Film Center

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

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Gold wasn't the only thing found buried in the Yukon Territory. Dawson City: Frozen Time is a mesmerizing documentary that looks at how the Gold Rush at the end of the 19th century transformed a small First Nation fishing village into a boom-and- bust town, and does so thanks to a treasure trove of silent films that were discovered buried in an old swimming pool. Director Bill Morrison was the perfect person to bring this story to light. Famous for his 2002 film Decasia, which highlighted the beauty of decomposing silver nitrate films from the early days of silent cinema, here he not only tells the story of the town but also shows us films that were either shot or shown there. Along the way we get rare glimpses of the scandalous 1919 World Series, the hotel/bordello history of Donald Trump's grandfather, and never-before-seen looks at this Gold Rush boomtown. Since Dawson City was at the end of the distribution line, it was cheaper for them to discard the films than send them back to the studios. With music by Sigur Rós collaborator Alex Somers, who also composed the music to Captain Fantastic (SIFF 2016), this is a gorgeous and evocative look at a fascinating period of frozen time.

Director Biography

Filmmaker Bill Morrison has been directing short films and documentaries since the 1990s, ganging recognition for films such as Decasia (2002) and Light is Calling (2004). Morrison is also a prominent artist, his work being featured at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Sponsored by Yuen Lui Photography Studio

  • Director: Bill Morrison
  • Principal Cast: Kathy Jones-Gates, Michael Gates, Sam Kula
  • Premiere Status: Seattle
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2016
  • Running Time: 120 minutes
  • Producer: Madeleine Molyneaux, Bill Morrison
  • Screenplay: Bill Morrison
  • Editors: Bill Morrison
  • Music: Alex Somers
  • Filmography: The Great Flood (2012); Decasia (2002); The Film of Her (1997)
  • Language: English
  • Format: DCP
  • US Distributor: Kino Lorber