In the increasing public discourse on mental health, Leanne Pooley’s inspiring and fearless documentary tracks an extraordinary young woman’s journey from suicide survivor to advocate for those struggling. The fact it leaves you hopeful and with tangible advice makes it vital viewing.
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The Girl on the Bridge is having its World Premiere in cinema at ASB Waterfront Theatre in Auckland, on Saturday 25 July at 4.00PM. See here for details & tickets.
This film is screening in select cinemas and venues across the country. See here for details.
Almost a film-within-a-film, The Girl on the Bridge explores the emotional tightrope to be walked when tackling a taboo and emotional topic. It follows 21-year-old Jazz Thornton during the pivotal two-year period she was emerging out of her own struggles with suicide to become a powerful advocate for mental health. During this time, she was also embarking on a personal project, the award-winning 2019 web series Jessica’s Tree, which pays reflective tribute to the eponymous friend whose life she could not save.
New Zealanders are aware of our suicide statistics and with a similar kaupapa to Maui’s Hook (NZIFF18), director Pooley and Thornton demand that the silence be lifted. Jazz, who has lived experience of eight years of depression, understands first-hand the power people find in realising they are not alone.
Thanks to Jazz’s extraordinary vision, and her authentic and engaging manner, her story provides epiphanies for every viewer concerned about Aotearoa’s suicide statistics and the fate of our rangatahi. Tangibly carrying the weight of responsibility intrinsic in such sensitive subject matter, Pooley’s film opens a window, through Jazz, for us all to lean in to the challenge to be part of making the world better.
“[The Girl on the Bridge] is very much about ‘the how’… I don’t think that you can watch it and then… have a conversation with someone [and] not actually ask how they’re doing, or not want to be part of the change. This film, it brings people together, but it also allows them to understand that they can be the change. I’m not the change, you are. And I think that’s really empowering for people to know that they have that ability to go out and change their world. They might not be able to change the entire world, but they can change someone’s world.” — Jazz Thornton
“It’s 15 years since I last premiered a film at the New Zealand International Film Festival and I feel very lucky The Girl on the Bridge marks my return to this wonderful festival. Jazz Thornton is hope personified and I was incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to tell her story – a story that needed to be told, not just because it will touch people’s hearts but because it just might serve as a catalyst for change.” — director Leanne Pooley
About the Filmmakers
Leanne Pooley has worked as a documentary filmmaker for 25 years. She was made a New Zealand Arts Laureate in 2011. Selected filmography: We Need to Talk about A.I. (2020), 25 April (2015), Beyond the Edge (2013), The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls (2009).
Jazz Thornton is a global mental health campaigner and director of the documentary web series Jessica’s Tree. She recently spoke at the UN’s Speak Your Mind event during the General Assembly in September 2019.