Virtual Cinema | An Inventive Documentary on Autism: “The Reason I Jump” December 11, 2020

“This superb documentary has more heroes than any blockbuster would dare to put on the same screen.” —Wall Street Journal

This incredibly moving and creatively made documentary brings to the screen inspirations from a memoir written by a Japanese boy with autism when he was just 13.

The Reason I Jump blends the revelatory insights of young Naoki Higashida with intimate portraits of five other remarkable young people encountering similar experiences. The film travels from the United States to India, Sierra Leone, and the United Kingdom, sharing the lives of each protagonist and their families.

A Unique Perception of the World
Narrated passages from the author’s writing reflect on what his autism means to him, how his perception of the world is unique, and why he acts the ways he does. The Reason I Jump won the 2020 Sundance Film Festival’s World Documentary Audience Award.

“Naoki debunks the ideas often held about the autistic spectrum—that at one end there are geniuses and at the other fools,” observes filmmaker Jerry Rothwell in his director’s statement. “Naoki remembers his childhood as one in which he faced huge barriers in communicating because he was bombarded by distracting sounds and sights, intense memories, random associations, and impulses.

The Full Potential of Cinema
“For a filmmaker, this offers an opportunity to use the full potential of cinema to evoke these intense sensory worlds in which meaning is made through sounds, pictures, and associations, as well as words. While no film can replicate human experience, my hope is that The Reason I Jump can encourage an audience to think about autism from the inside, recognizing other ways of sensing the world, both beautiful and disorienting. I hope the film takes audiences on a journey through different experiences of autism, leaving a strong sense of how the world needs to change to become fully inclusive.”

Like the best documentaries, The Reason I Jump is a thought-provoking film with insights that resonate long beyond its running time. In opening our minds to neurodiversity, it advocates for acceptance and understanding.

• The Reason I Jump / WATCH HERE beginning January 8. Your ticket supports the MFAH and provides a 5-day pass to the film. SEE THE TRAILER

Underwriting for the Film Department is provided by Tenaris and the Vaughn Foundation. Generous funding is provided by Nina and Michael Zilkha; The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea; Franci Neely; Carrin Patman and Jim Derrick; Lynn S. Wyatt; ILEX Foundation; L’Alliance Française de Houston; and The Foundation for Independent Media Arts.