The first generations of filmmakers shot their productions on nitrate film. An exceptionally flammable material, which is why more than 80 percent of nitrate films in the world have been lost. So it came as a big surprise when, in 1978, 533 cans of film from the period 1910-1920 were found in Dawson City in Canada. They had been dumped in a local swimming pool that had then been converted into an ice-hockey rink. The permafrost had conserved them for almost half a century.
It took almost as long again for someone to examine it all. Starting out from this unique material, media artist Bill Morrison reconstructs the history of Dawson City. The silent film and cinema newsreels tell several stories: of the gold rush, the economic prosperity this brought as well as the environmental damage and injustices inflicted upon the native population. A case of sporting fraud is even revealed, too late for prosecution.

Filmmaker
Country
USA
Year
2016
Medium
DCP
Length
120’
Language
English
Producer
Bill Morrison, Madeleine Molyneaux
Production Company
Hypnotic Pictures, Picture Palace Pictures
Sales
Picture Palace Pictures
Writer
Bill Morrison
Editor
Bill Morrison
Sound Design
John Somers
Music
Alex Somers