Regisseur Eric Steel hat einen Film über Selbstmörder gedreht, die von der Golden Gate Bridge springen: The Bridge. Mehrere Festivals, darunter auch Cannes und Berlin, haben den Film abgelehnt – auf dem Tribeca Film Festival ist er letzte Woche allerdings gelaufen. Steel verteidigt den Film als Dokumentation, einige Angehörige, mit denen er Interviews geführt hat, fühlen sich allerdings nicht ganz so wohl. Get your suicides here, folks:

It’s not hard to kill yourself at the Golden Gate bridge. There is only a 4ft safety rail separating the sidewalk from the void, and 98% of suicide attempts there have succeeded. The predictability of deaths there is such, in fact, that Steel was able to film 23 of the deaths in 2004 at the site. From dawn to dusk every day of the year, he and his small crew worked from two mini-DV cameras on each side of the bridge: south, at San Francisco’s Battery East, and north, on a fishing pier at Fort Baker in Marin County. One was for the wide-angle view, one for close-up telephoto shots. He had uninterrupted access to everything that happened during daylight hours on the east side of the bridge, with its seductive panorama of San Francisco, Angel Island, Alcatraz, and the East Bay. That is the only side that allows pedestrians, and it closes at nightfall.

He had to lie to do it. He needed a permit from the National Park Service, which administers the bridge in tandem with the powerful Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, led by a board of political appointees. He wrote in a letter to a bureaucrat at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in November 2003: “This is meant to capture the powerful, spectacular intersection of monument and nature that takes place every day at the Golden Gate Bridge. It will be the first in a series. Future projects are to focus on the arch in St Louis and the Statue of Liberty in New York City.”

No one twigged. Fourteen months later, in January 2005, after shooting nearly 10,000 hours of footage of the bridge and 100 additional hours of interviews around the country, he emailed Mary Currie, public affairs director of the District, to request access to records and assorted bridge personnel – and confessed. “I believe the film will allow us to see into the most impenetrable corners of the human mind and challenge us to think and talk about suicide in profoundly different ways,” he wrote. Implicit in his message was the need for a preventive measure more reliable than the ineffective foot patrols and cameras currently in place. Currie went right to the local press – and they ate it up. “Film Captures Suicides on Golden Gate Bridge,” ran the headline in the San Francisco Chronicle the following week. “Angry Officials Say Moviemaker Misled Them.”