Screening as a part of the annual Witness Palestine film series, the documentary “It’s Better to Jump” focuses on the changing face of Akka, a picturesque Palestinian city on the coast of Northern Israel. Over the years, the city’s Arab residents have found themselves squeezed out by Israeli authorities, Jewish settlers, and developers keen to turn the city into a tourist destination, complete with luxury resorts and upscale restaurants. With the increasingly expensive cost of living and inflated buyout offers, the relatively poor locals find themselves being forced to sell their homes, some that their ancestors have inhabited for centuries.
The filmmakers capture the views of Palestinian residents, who in talking head interviews express their worry over the growing gentrification of their homeland and the gradual snuffing out of their culture. The film’s title comes from the ancient seawall built around the city. Originally meant to fend off outside invaders, it’s now used by local children to demonstrate their bravery by jumping from its height into the Mediterranean Sea, 40 feet below — the central metaphor there is fairly clear. Even with its brief runtime, the film grows repetitive in giving voice to the citizens’ arguments and, as justified as their fears may be, the film would benefit from the presence of at least one alternative viewpoint. Still, the film gives a lushly-photographed glimpse into the delicate balance of life in the Middle East.