Dorothea Mitchell – A Reel Pioneer recounts in Mitchell’s own words the amazing life of a pioneer filmmaker. Seventy years later a group of local enthusiasts in Thunder Bay, reinvent the silent pictures, by finishing “The Fatal Flower”,the murder mystery Dorothea had bequeathed to the national Archives of Canada. With no script to work from and some missing scenes, the group nurtured “The Fatal Flower” back to life.
Dorothea Mitchell was born in England, raised in India, and immigrated to Canada in 1904. She was a “spinster” who chose the forests of Northwestern Ontario where she fought to become the first single woman in the province to be granted homestead rights. She staked her claim for a homestead at Silver Mountain where she built a sawmill, hired lumberjacks, and ran the local train station.
At the age of 42, Dorothea Mitchell’s artistic career began when she moved to Port Arthur, (now Thunder Bay), where she wrote, produced and starred in a series of silent films. She was a founding member of the Port Arthur Amateur Cinema Society and their 1929 A Race for Ties was the first amateur feature length film made in Canada. She and Fred Cooper, a successful baker who owned a camera, became members of the New York-based Amateur Cinema League, which was a serious effort by independent filmmakers throughout the world to compete with Hollywood. Dorothea sent away for scripts to produce, read them and decided she could do better. To find out more about Dorothea Mitchell and the Port Arthur Amateur Cinema Society visit www.ladylumberjack.ca.