Film Review: It's Better to Jump

The subject is the cultural cannibalization of one of the world's most ancient and beautiful cities, and however one-sided the argument is here, the problem is undeniably moving and true.

Imposing and impressively weathered stone walls surround the ancient Israeli city of Akka and have protected it for centuries from warring invaders. But, sadly, today these mighty ramparts are no match for the dispiriting commercial takeover of tourism and gentrification. With It’s Better to Jump, directors Patrick Alexander Stewart, Gina M. Angelone and Mouna B. Stewart have done an impressive job conveying how all these dispiriting changes have affected the city's Palestinian residents. They have selected a bunch of interviewees who, however varied, ranging from young pioneering female rappers to impassioned teachers and professors to a tour guide and fisherman, are united in their dismay over the very real threat to their traditional way of life. "I don't want Akka to become another perfect, beautiful tourist city like Venice," one of them says.

Besides the skyrocketing real-estate values that are literally forcing many residents to sell their homes and migrate elsewhere and the endangered fishing industry which has only added to the economic woes of the Palestinians, according to the talking heads, there is a cultural invasion happening as well. Israeli Jews are now the majority, both in numbers and financial power, often making Palestinians feel like second-class citizens in their own town, ever since the creation of Israel in 1948. "Our history preceded that date," avers more than one person here, and while it would have been nice to have included some Israeli voices in the interests of a more even-handed representation, one certainly feels the cultural pain of a people whose very Palestinian identity finds them discriminated against when it comes to jobs and other crucial matters.

Those walls, which once even held back the mighty forces of Napoleon, now serve as a playground for the local youth, many of whom are jobless and school dropouts. The many shots of them running on them and jumping off into the sea form a lyrical visual respite from all the dolorous, sometimes repetitive interviews.