Thursday August 03, 2017

Dawson City: Frozen Time documentary unearths Yukon's rich film history

One of the many reels of the Dawson City Collection recovered in 1978.

One of the many reels of the Dawson City Collection recovered in 1978. (Kino Lorber )

Listen 17:48

Every so often, a story hits the news about some long-lost treasure — a relic forgotten by history being found again. And the most interesting of these discoveries are usually hiding right beneath our feet. 

But Yukon's permafrost has yielded something even more unexpected: Silent films. Hundreds of films and footage thought lost forever have come out of Dawson City's frozen soil. And these aren't just any films: We're talking about priceless and irreplaceable prints featuring the biggest stars of the silent film era. Now a new documentary tells this incredible story. 

bill morrison

Director Bill Morrison attends a photocall for 'Dawson City: Frozen Time' during the 73rd Venice Film Festival at Palazzo del Casino on September 5, 2016 in Venice, Italy. (Getty Images)

It also tells us how this northern town directly affected Hollywood of the early 20th century and shaped the world we live in now. Tom Power talks with Dawson City: Frozen Time director Bill Morrison about the film.

If you are in Toronto, Dawson City: Frozen Time is screening at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema on Sunday, Aug. 6, and Wednesday, Aug. 9.

— Produced by Ben Edwards