The first intervention of the conference offers an original perspective on the topic of hidden archives and the flow of documents, discussed during the first day.
American filmmaker and artist Bill Morrison works with archives and found footage, using them as a source of images and historical discoveries that can change our understanding of an era and even turn the flow of time. Using old, sometimes degraded footage, he creates poetic symphonies about things that are lost but have left a trace and therefore can be revived or at least partially reconstructed. Having collaborated with composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass, he invited Alex Somers—musician, sound editor and designer, who has worked with the cult Icelandic band Sigur Rós—to collaborate on Dawson City.
Morrison’s new film is an archaeological picture about the Canadian city of Dawson and the 1978 discovery of five hundred silent films that were believed to be lost. The nitrate, highly flammable reels ended up in Dawson at the turn of the nineteenth century—the time of the gold rush and the emergence of the first cinemas in the city, which coincided with the burgeoning years of the American film industry and North American capitalism. Morrison chooses this chance discovery as a starting point for a journey into an alternative history of film and Northern America. Dawson City: Frozen Time was nominated for the Horizons award at the 73rd Venice Film Festival in 2016 and will be screened in Russia for the first time.
With an introduction by the director in conversation with film critic Evgeny Gusyatinsky.