Dawson City: Frozen Time is the new documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Bill Morrison (Decasia, All Vows). The film tells the social and political history of Dawson City, in the Yukon, first a fishing camp for a nomadic First Nation tribe, through its settlement by whites in the Gold Rush (wiping out the Native American populace) and eventual decline.
The Dawson Amateur Athletic Association (DAAA) opened in 1902 and began showing films and soon, the city became the final stop for a distribution chain that sent prints and newsreels to the Yukon. The films were seldom, if ever, returned and finally, in a bizarre twist, buried underneath an ice-hockey rink.
The nitrate stock was rediscovered in 1978 when the rink was destroyed and Morrison uses the footage to illustrate the story of Dawson City, in the style he pioneered by his 2002 film Decasia: The State of Decay. As this fragile stock has been damaged over time, the image has been distorted, creating new visuals and new meanings.
In Dawson City, cultural history meets artist film, in a seductive, transporting mode. The film has been selling out in its runs in New York and LA. Morrison's career continues to be ever more compelling.
DocDays screening: Screening to be introduced by Nicholas Lawrence, Department of English & Comparative Literary Studies University of Warwick. Wednesday 23 May 6.30pm, Curzon Oxford.
This event is part of the America's Cool Modernism exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum.
With thanks to Picture Palace Pictures, Hypnotic Pictures and Ashmolean Museum.