It’s Better to Jump (Angelone, 2013)
It’s Better to Jump is one of those films that sounds better in a summary than it ends up being. Allegedly a profile of citizens in Akka, a port city in Israel, it promises an examination of the tradition of young adults who jump into the sea from a forty foot wall surrounding the city.
The documentary has a promising beginning, explaining the historical significance of Akka and providing some context for the tradition. Unfortunately,rather than moving into the tradition it gets bogged down in testimonials about increased Palestinian persecution under the Israeli government. This information isn’t new or particular, so it gives the film a more generic quality as it develops.
Also, much of the political rhapsodizing is done by younger people who may not have the broader experience needed to contextualize their persecution. It’s hard to need a visa wherever you go. You want to go where there are opportunities, but you also want to stay where it is your home. These musings could be from nearly any young adult in any economically challenged location.
There are some beautiful visuals in the film, and it is an effective reminder that there are variations between cities in all countries. Those outside of Israel may have a mental image that all cities or places within it are the same, yet while the conflict with Palestinians is pervasive, it affects different cities in different ways.
Ultimately, however, I wished the film had been spent more time differentiating Akka and its citizens from other places in Israel. We are told over and over that it is a unique place, but we are hardly able to explore that unique place, so busy is the film in telling us how that uniqueness is threatened.