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The Bridge (2006 documentary film)

May 19th, 2014

The Bridge is a 2006 British-American documentary film by Eric Steel that consists of the results of one year’s filming of the Golden Gate Bridge in 2004, which captured a number of suicides, and additional filming of family and friends of some of the identified people who had thrown themselves from the bridge.

The film was inspired by an article titled “Jumpers“, written by Tad Friend, that appeared in The New Yorker magazine in 2003. Friend writes that “Survivors often regret their decision in midair, if not before”, and suicide attempt survivor Ken Baldwin explains “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.

Steel interviewed relatives and friends of the suicide victims, not informing them that he had footage of their loved ones’ deaths. He claimed that, “All the family members now, at this point, have seen the film, [and are] glad that they had participated in it.” He filmed 120 hours of interviews.

The project was kept secret to avoid a situation where someone would “get it into his or her head to go to the bridge and immortalize him or herself on film.” The camera crew consisted of 12 people that showed up each morning for an entire year to film the bridge.

During filming, on average, one person jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge every 15 days. In an interview by the British Broadcasting Corporation, Steel states that as the death count was approaching one thousand, there was a rash of jumpers including people jumping with signs reading “I’m 1,000.”

In the beginning of January to February 2004, the film crew captured only splashes on the water and only knew from the Coast Guard arriving on the scene that someone had leaped. The first jumper caught with the telephoto lens was not behaving as filmmakers expected – crying and weeping – but, rather, was jogging; talking on his cellphone; laughing, and then suddenly put his things away and leaped to his death.

The film shows many jumpers, and also, many people being saved from jumping. In one case a woman traversed the upper railing to the lower railing only to be pulled by her collar back to safety by a photographer. Filmmakers tried in each case to intercede when they could, succeeding in preventing six jumps. But in most cases there was either no warning, or no time to prevent the jump.

The documentary also has an interview of Kevin Hines who jumped in 2000, and survived because, as he fell toward the water, decided that he wanted to live after all, and positioned himself so he hit the water feet first. He suffered serious injuries to his spine but his life was saved by a black seal swimming below him. He later attributed the seal’s presence as a sign from God.

The documentary caused significant controversy when bridge officials charged Steel with misleading them about his intentions. He secured a permit to film the bridge for months and captured 23 of 24 known suicides that took place during the filming phase of the project. In his permit application to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, a government agency that does not have any jurisdiction over the bridge but that does manage nearby park areas, Steel said he intended “to capture the powerful, spectacular intersection of monument and nature that takes place every day at the Golden Gate Bridge”. Shooting lasted the entirety of 2004, ending with almost 10,000 hours of footage filmed.

Source: Wikipedia

Trailer

The Bridge (Full Documentary)

A Ponte (Documentário Completo – Legendado em Português)

Kevin Briggs: The bridge between suicide and life

For many years Sergeant Kevin Briggs had a dark, unusual, at times strangely rewarding job: He patrolled the southern end of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, a popular site for suicide attempts. In a sobering, deeply personal talk Briggs shares stories from those he’s spoken — and listened — to standing on the edge of life. He gives a powerful piece of advice to those with loved ones who might be contemplating suicide.

Source: TED

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