Suicide movie to screen in NZ

By Errol Kiong

A documentary showing people jumping to their deaths from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge will screen as part of the Auckland International Film Festival.

The film screens at the Academy Cinema on Monday July 23 at 8.15pm and Tuesday July 24 at 3.30pm.

The Bridge, by New York director Eric Steel, centres on one of San Francisco's most recognisable tourist landmarks.

But it has also been the beacon for the miserable, with some 1300 people jumping to their deaths from the structure since 1937.

Steel spent the whole of 2004 gathering footage from multiple camera angles surrounding the bridge, capturing 23 fatal leaps.

He then followed up those silent suicides by interviewing grieving families and friends to develop a picture of who these people were.

The documentary, released in 2005, has sparked controversy. Several prominent festivals, including Sundance, Berlin and Cannes, refused to show it. It has also polarised reviewers. Some have called it a crude snuff film and others have waxed lyrical.

The New York Post calls it a "serious, wrenching and oddly poetic documentary" and American critic Jim Emerson, editor of RogerEbert.com, gave it four stars.

"It's a profoundly affecting work of art that peers into an abyss most of us are terrified to face - not just the waters of the bay, but the human mind - and reflects on the unanswerable question: What makes someone take that leap into the void?"

Festival director Richard King said it was a beautiful film, but had no doubt its subject matter would disturb.

"It's a very sensitive and moving portrayal of people who choose to end their lives and the effects that's had on the people around them.

"It's a subject people need to talk about ... it also just wakes them up to people with mental illnesses and depression."

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