Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Other Israel Film Festival Spotlight: One More Jump

I’m delighted to be returning for the seventh time to cover the Other Israel Film Festival, which features a diverse crop of Israeli and Palestinian cinema and is hosted by the JCC Manhattan. The 14th Annual Other Israel Film Festival runs virtually December 3rd-10th, 2020.

One More Jump
Directed by Emanuele Gerosa
Ticket Information

Sports are a common way that people escape their environments and move on to something else. High school students head to particular colleges based on athletic scholarships, and many train for years to impress scouts and make a future for themselves. Those means aren’t always possible, and a drive serves instead as a distraction and a way to channel frustrated energy into something productive. Participation creates community and instills a sense of belonging that be a force for positivity when it feels like someone truly can’t do anything to change their circumstances.

This documentary opens in Gaza with a group of young men running together through the streets before reaching a more open space where they can practice their chosen art form: parkour. They train vigorously to master their skills and to remain active, their main hope for satisfaction given the unlikelihood of being able to leave. Jehad is a mentor for many young Gazans eager to follow in his footsteps, while his friend Abdallah has moved to Italy, where his dreams of entering the world of parkour are becoming increasingly real.

This film begins with an invigorating rhythm, showing the sincere joy that its subjects get from being able to express themselves in this way. There is something sincerely exciting that comes from seeing them jump and spin, showing off their tremendous abilities as they work to become even better. There is an extraordinarily meaningful metaphor that exists in their training to move in a manner that most can’t, when that won’t enable them to vault over the physical barriers that separate them from the life they might want.

From its energetic start, this film travels down a less optimistic road as reality for Jehad and Abdallah sets in. Jehad witnesses the unrest that exists in Gaza as he and his friends feel subjugated and abandoned by both Israel and neighboring Arab countries, and he can do nothing to prevent or affect it. Abdallah feels like a stranger in a foreign land because opportunity meant leaving his home behind, and he risks being forgotten if he fails to make a name for himself and to represent his community from afar. The camera serves as a formidable storyteller, following these real people as they walk, run, and jump through a city that may be very far from perfect but it still their own and defines them. This film is an effective vehicle to tell their story, sharing a window into their unique mentality.


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