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DOC NYC (November 10th - November 17th, 2016)

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      Off the Rails is quite a compelling documentary because it has a fascinating story and a very complex subject, Darius McCollum. He has Asperger's Syndrome, and has been obsessed with the NYC subway trains and buses since a very young age. He knows the subway and bus system better like the back of his hand, and learned how to drive trains with the help of MTA conductors whom he had befriended. Disguising himself as an MTA employee with the appropriate uniforms, he drove buses and trains all on his own, and safely transported passengers to their destinations. When he was finally caught, he ended up in prison. Upon his release, he went right back to driving the buses and trains illegally. There's much more to McCollum than meets the eye. Fortunately, director Adam Irving allows you to get to know McCollum to empathize with him. He's not a bad person; just someone who clearly needs a lot of psychotherapy. It's equally heartbreaking and infuriating to learn that he never received the proper mental health treatment to deal with his mental issues and that the MTA repeatedly refused to hire him because they considered him to be too risky. Although Off the Rails does delve into the roots of McCollum's mental health problems along with how and why he ended up illegally driving buses, and how the prison system failed him, Irving doesn't explore the elephant in the room that's part of a much larger, systemic problem: how racism in our justice system could have played a factor in how McCollum, who's black, was failed by the system. He was in and out of jail a total of 32 times---that statistic alone speaks volume. This doc would make a great double feature with Ava DuVernay's doc 13th and with Asperger's Are Us which also has a subject with Asperger's Syndrome who's also obsessed with trains. The Film Collaborative opens Off the Rails at The Metrograph on November 18th, 2016.


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