The 20th annual Milwaukee Short Film Festival will set up shop at the Fox Bay Cinema Grill Friday, September 7, and Saturday, September 8. Fifty films will screen during the fest, including previously screened MSFF selections from the past two decades. One of the new films set to make its local debut, however, stands out: Hoan Alone, a nine-minute animated documentary exploring the delicate subject of suicides on Milwaukee’s iconic Hoan Bridge.

Hoan Alone was inspired by the morning commute of its director, Aaron Johnson. “Last year, on two separate occasions, I drove by and saw somebody standing on the edge of the bridge ready to kill themselves,” Johnson told TMJ4. Researching the topic, the director learned 30 people had taken their lives at the Hoan Bridge since 2000.

“Milwaukee’s Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge is the crown over Summerfest and has become one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks,” says the film’s synopsis. “But it’s also a popular site for suicides. This animated documentary explores the issues of the bridge and suicide through three intimate interviews. Follow animator, Aaron Johnson, as he shares the stories of Dave, John, and Mary.”

One subject nearly ended his life on the Hoan Bridge. Another lost a family member. Another, a firefighter, encountered a woman on top of the bridge. The interviews were animated by Johnson, a la Richard Linklater’s Waking Life.

Hoan Alone (boy, that title) will screen Friday, September 7 at the 2018 Milwaukee Short Film Festival. Tickets are available here. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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