A 2003 New Yorker article entitled “Jumpers: The Fatal Grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge” declared San Francisco’s iconic monument the most favoured suicide destination in the world. Filmmaker Eric Steele cites the article as the inspiration for The Bridge, a documentary intended, he says, to “peer into the darkest corners of the human mind and challenge us to think and talk about suicide in profoundly different ways.” The film has generated significant debate, as much for Steele’s methods as for his subject matter. Using cameras with extreme telephoto lenses, Steele and his crew filmed the bridge for an entire year, during every daylight moment, from two vantage points. They captured a number of the two dozen suicides that occurred there that year; of note, they also filmed a number of unrealized attempts – some thwarted by the film crew’s ability to contact bridge security staff when concerning behaviour was observed. In addition, they recorded hours of incredibly frank, deeply personal, often heart-wrenching interviews with the families and friends of those who had committed suicide, and with witnesses who observed suicides. Incredibly, Steele even interviews one jumper who lived to tell the tale: 25-year-old Kevin Hines, whose moving testimony, like so much of this film, is hard to watch, but harder to forget. “One of the most moving and brutally honest films about suicide ever made. An eerie and indelible documentary” (Stephen Holden, New York Times). Colour, DVD. 93 mins.
Frames of Mind is a monthly film event utilizing film and video to promote professional and community education on issues pertaining to mental health and illness.
Post-screening discussion with Terry Smith, Chief Coroner of the Province of British Columbia. Mr. Smith assumed his current duties after retiring, at the rank of Chief Superintendent, from a 35-year career in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. As Chief Coroner he has led a number of initiatives focused on reviewing trends in common causes of death and developing long-term prevention strategies.
Co-sponsored by the Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of British Columbia and SAFER (VCHA).
Moderated by Dr. Harry Karlinsky, Director of Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.
For more information, see the Pacific Cinémathèque Program Guide