The hypnotic new piece from New York artist and filmmaker Bill Morrison is an immersive, archival journey through a secret history of North America’s forgotten nitrate cinema.
Located just south of the Arctic Circle, the one-time Canadian gold rush town of Dawson City was home to an incredible discovery in 1978: over 500 nitrate films from the silent era, preserved in the frozen ground where they’d been buried, presumed lost, at the end of the 1920s.
In the hands of master film essayist Bill Morrison (The Film of Her, MIFF 1997), this lustrous nitrate footage forms a revelatory history of both Dawson City and American cinema itself, its rapturous montage – set to a beautiful score by Sigur Rós collaborator Alex Somers – touching on figures as diverse as Charlie Chaplin, Ken Burns and Donald Trump (the latter’s family fortune began in the small town.) It’s a dreamscape of film’s past that no cinephile will want to miss.
'Bill Morrison’s magnum opus. One would be hard-pressed to think of a film more haunting.' – Reverse Shot