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"Off the Rails" screening during Hot Docs,
May 4, 6, 8

Mouth whistle.jpg

Photo: Adam Irving.

This year’s Hot Docs film festival in Toronto features screenings of Off the Rails. The documentary will likely interest Transit Toronto readers in several ways — and not just because it’s about someone who loves public transit.

The film tells the remarkable true story of Darius McCollum, a man with Asperger’s syndrome, whose overwhelming love of transit has landed him in jail 32 times for impersonating New York City bus drivers and subway conductors and driving their routes.

As a boy in Queens, NY, Darius found sanctuary from school bullies in the subway. There he befriended transit workers who taught him to drive trains. By age 8, he memorized the entire subway system. At 15, he drove a packed train eight stops by himself, making all the stops and announcements.

Over the next three decades, Darius commandeered hundreds of trains and buses, staying en route and on schedule, without ever getting paid. He attended transit worker union meetings, lobbying for better pay and working conditions for a union he didn’t belong to.

Although Darius has never damaged any property or hurt anyone in his decades of service, he has spent 23 years in maximum security prison. Darius’ recidivism embodies the criminal justice system’s failure to channel the passions of a harmless, mentally challenged man into a productive career and purposeful life.

Here are the Toronto transit connections: First, director / producer Adam Irving was born and raised in Toronto and regularly rode the TTC. Second, he actually filmed several of the re-enactments for the film at Lower Bay Station.

On the platform.jpg

Photo: Adam Irving.

The film is playing:

You can learn more about the screenings and how to buy tickets here.

You can view the trailer for the film here.

Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, offers an outstanding selection of more than 200 films from Canada and around the world to Toronto audiences of more than 200,000.

The 2016 Hot Docs Festival takes place Thursday, April 28 until Sunday, May 8.


Photo: Adam Irving.

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