Local Film Shows Up At Sundance

Trevor Anderson's The High Level Bridge opens discussion for suicide and how it's been swept under the rug...until now

BY EMIL TIEDEMANN

The High Level Bridge
"IT is a beautiful and gracious film, an artistic tribute to those who have jumped from the bridge, and also a poetic contemplation of the High Level Bridge itself and its role within the city's collective psyche." That's what the Edmonton Sun's Graham Hicks had to say about Trevor Anderson's 5-minute documentary short The High Level Bridge, an official selection at both the Toronto International Film Festival and Sundance.

But it was Hicks who, in the same breath, confessed his concern over a potential "copy cat" response to the film's often-taboo subject matter: suicide. Hicks worries that "making a direct link between the High Level Bridge and its suicides may be very emotionally painful to the families and friends of victims other than those to whom the film is dedicated."

There were about two dozen comments posted on the online version of the Sun article (including a couple by Anderson himself), and well over 100,000 YouTube hits, which goes to show how much fuss this little film from our own backyard has stirred. Both positive and negative.

The High Level Bridge, in which Anderson himself drops his "consumer-grade" camera from the infamous platform "in memory of those who have jumped," was even mentioned a Best Live Action Short Film selection during the 2010 American Film Institute Festival, in Hollywood. It also screened here, at the Edmonton International Film Festival last October.

Filmmaker Trevor Anderson
Whether the responses to the film's touchy topic are good or bad, The High Level Bridge--made with local writer and music critic Fish Griwkowsky (director of photography)--is 250 seconds of sometimes-humorous, sometimes-sentimental footage of an ominous structure with many secrets of its own. Secrets traditionally kept hidden, for the most part, thanks to a media "code of honour" that avoids reporting every "run-of-the-mill" High Level suicide.

Perhaps that's why when Anderson claimed that "everybody around here knows at least a couple of people who've jumped," I had no idea what he was talking about. I had never known anyone who took their own life by jumping from the bridge--or any bridge for that matter--and couldn't even recall hearing about such an incident. At least specifically referencing the High Level.

But, according to Anderson's film, "It's where people who live in Edmonton go when we're finally ready to kill ourselves." This film was not made to exploit such prohibited territory, but perhaps rather to acknowledge it and pay tribute to those who used the bridge to end their lives. After watching this film, don't be surprised if you pay attention to the bridge's dark history every time you cross it.

I do.

Below is Trevor Anderson's short documentary 'The High Level Bridge,' which he gave us permission to post on 'I Heart Edmonton.'

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