2020 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE REASON I JUMP

THE REASON I JUMP | Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Jerry Rothwell

THE REASON I JUMP
Jerry Rothwell profiles several non-verbal autistic young people in this project based on the New York Times bestseller by Naoki Higashida.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition

Country:
UK

Sundance Program Description:

An immersive cinematic experience of nonspeaking autistic people across the world, THE REASON I JUMP is based on a book written by Naoki Higashida when he was just 13. The film follows a young Japanese boy on a journey through an epic landscape. As a maelstrom of thoughts, feelings, impulses, and memories affects his every action, he gradually discovers what his autism means to him, how his perception of the world differs from others’, and why he acts the way he does – the reason he jumps.

Fusing Higashida’s revelatory insights with intimate portraits of five remarkable young people, the film opens a door to a magnificent constellation of divergent ways of experiencing reality. Impactful moments in the lives of the characters are woven together with passages from Higashida’s writing, creating a sensually rich tapestry.

Award-winning filmmaker Jerry Rothwell utilizes the potential of cinema to evoke these intense sensory worlds, illustrating Higashida’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say. With this glorious film, Rothwell speaks volumes.

Some Background:

Director:

  • Jerry Rothwell
    Past Sundance docs:

    HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD (2015)

    UK-based Rothwell has received Sundance Documentary Film Program support for several past projects. His previous Sundance title, HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD, picked up a special jury prize for editing at the festival.

Producers:

  • Jeremy Dear and Stevie Lee

    Dear is the managing director of London-based The Ideas Room. He has an extensive background developing factual television series. Runaway Fridge Productions’ Lee is a literary agent-turned-film/TV producer. She previously produced 2014 Sundance alumni fiction feature FRANK. The husband-and-wife team have a non-verbal autistic son, Joss, who is one of the subjects profiled in the film.

  • Al Morrow
    Past Sundance docs:

    HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD

    Morrow is head of documentary at London’s Met Film Production. She has produced all of Rothwell’s previous features.

Co-Producer:

  • Sam Payne

    This is the first Sundance credit for the UK-based Payne.

Executive Producers:

  • Met Film Production’s Stewart le Maréchal & Jonny Persey
    Past Sundance docs:

    HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD

    le Maréchal is head of production, while Persey is director of Met Film. They have produced or executive produced all of Rothwell’s previous features.

  • Peter Webber

    Webber is a British director of fiction and nonfiction best known for his Oscar-nominated feature debut GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING.

  • Jody Allen
    Past Sundance docs:

    RACING EXTINCTION (2015)
    PANDORA’S PROMISE (2013)
    THE BLUES (2003)

    The Emmy-winning Allen is a businesswoman and philanthropist, and co-founded Vulcan Productions with her late brother, Paul G Allen. She previously produced or executive produced Sundance alumni fiction feature HARD CANDY and COASTLINES.

    Paul G Allen
    Past Sundance docs:

    GHOST FLEET VR (2019, VR short)
    STEP (2017)
    RACING EXTINCTION
    PANDORA’S PROMISE
    THE BLUES

    Allen, who passed away in 2018, was a co-founder of Vulcan Productions, together with his sister, Jody Allen. The Emmy-winning businessman and philanthropist was best known as a co-founder of Microsoft with Bill Gates. He also executive produced Sundance alumni title HARD CANDY.

  • Rocky Collins
    Past Sundance docs:

    HOW TO DRAW A BUNNY (2002)

    The Emmy-winning Collins is director of production at Vulcan Productions.

  • Jannat Gargi
    Past Sundance docs:

    STEP
    EARTH DAYS (2009)

    The Emmy-winning Gargi was most recently director of feature documentaries and distribution for Vulcan Productions.

  • Ruth Johnston
    Past Sundance docs:

    GHOST FLEET VR

    Johnston is general manager for Vulcan Productions.

  • Carole Tomko
    Past Sundance docs:

    STEP
    RACING EXTINCTION

    The Emmy-winning Tomko is the former general manager and creative director of Vulcan Productions.

  • Lizzie Francke
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT (2016)
    NOTES ON BLINDNESS (2016)
    HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD
    DARK HORSE (2015)
    A COMPLETE HISTORY OF MY SEXUAL FAILURES

    Francke is a senior production and development executive at the BFI’s Film Fund. She also executive produced or produced Sundance alumni fiction features THE SOUVENIR, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE, LADY MACBETH, ’71, UNMADE BEDS, DONKEY PUNCH, and TRAUMA.

Co-Executive Producer:

  • Sara Edelson

    Edelson is director, nonfiction original series at Netflix. She was formerly head of development at Vulcan Productions.

Editor:

Why You Should Watch:
With sensitivity and thoughtfulness, Rothwell invites the audience to enter the inner worlds of his five young subjects, while threading Naoki Higashida’s reflections throughout the film. As a result, the film asks viewers to change their perspectives and assumptions about autism, language, and human experience.

More Info:
Sundance’s Meet the Artist Profile
Twitter

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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