Life Under the Bridge (USA, 9)
Directed by: Andrew McGivern
Cast: Ron "Pepper" Brown
'Life Under the Bridge' is a documentary about Ron 'Pepper' Brown, a homeless artist living with HIV under the famous 6th Street Bridge in Los Angeles.
While Pepper is aware of the camera and often focuses his words directly at the intended audience, he himself moves where he likes and the documentary is intended to be a blend of both direct cinema and cinema vérité techniques, with no questions posed or narration of any kind.
Pepper reflects on his past lives, before becoming homeless or contracting disease, acknowledging that his final days are looming; his health failing. He speaks of how he left “fame and bright lights” behind. He's had many life altering events that may or may not have led him to where he is, and he talks about them in detail, including his marriage/divorce and a daughter who is now grown; prior misery and current contentment and even happiness with his life now.
Pepper’s self reflection is interrupted by his friend/neighbor, a fellow homeless man named Tracy, who is bringing him a sandwich for dinner. Tracy takes a few minutes of his own to explain who Pepper is to him, why Pepper will never change, and then puts his feelings into music – performing a song solo that he wrote and sold to a popular record label decades prior.
The goal of the documentary is not just to help the audience identify with a homeless man, or a victim of disease… but to bring a true sense of identity to the homeless in general.