The Reason I Jump


Based on the best-selling book by Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump is an immersive cinematic exploration of neurodiversity through the experiences of nonspeaking autistic people from around the world. The film blends Higashida’s revelatory insights into autism, written when he was just 13, with intimate portraits of five remarkable young people. It opens a window into an intense and overwhelming, but often joyful, sensory universe. Acutely observed moments in the lives of each of the characters are connected by passages from Naoki’s writing, in which a young Japanese boy journeys through an epic landscape, gradually discovering what his autism means to him, how his perception of the world differs, and why he acts in the way he does: the reason he jumps. The film distils these elements into a sensually rich tapestry that leads us to Naoki’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say.

Director’s biography

Jerry Rothwell is a filmmaker whose work includes the award winning feature documentaries, How To Change The World, about the founders of Greenpeace (winner of Grierson Award 2017); Sour Grapes, about the biggest wine fraud in history, produced for Netflix and Arte; Town of Runners, about two girls in an Ethiopian village who aspire to be athletes; Donor Unknown, about a sperm donor and his many offspring; Heavy Load, about a group of people with learning disabilities who form a punk band, and Deep Water (co-directed with Louise Osmond), about Donald Crowhurst’s ill-fated voyage in the 1968 round the world yacht race. His latest film is The School in the Cloud, a film TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra and the future of education in a networked world.

Festivals and awards

Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary – Sundance 2020
Vancouver International Film Festival 2020
BFI London Film Festival 2020


The Reason I Jump (doc.)
Director: Jerry Rothwell
Country: UK, USA
Year: 2020.
Runtime: 82′
Language: English
Cast: Jordan O’Donegan
Production: MetFilm Production, BFI Film Fund, Vulcan Productions

International Selection