Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

A much buzzed-about film coming out of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival is “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors.” It’s a story about a young Mexican-American teen (“Ricky”) with autism who runs away from home and escapes into the NYC subway system where he is put out of his element and faces tough obstacles like hunger, among other things. While at the same time, above ground, his mother and family are in a desperate race to find him.

Stand Clear of the Closing Doors The story, which is based a true story about a 13-year-old autistic boy from the Bronx who rode for the subway by himself for three days last year, delves into the struggles that families touched by autism can face, while also, as it’s described, it tells a story “about community, family, togetherness and the undeniable human desire to reach across the daunting chasms that divide us—to connect.”

To get a little more insight into the creation of the film, here are some excerpts from an interview that the film’s director, Sam Fleischner, did with the Wall Street Journal:

On casting the lead role of Ricky, played by Jesus Sanchez-Velez, who is autistic:

“I wasn’t interested in working with a child actor and trying to tell him what it’s like to be autistic. I don’t really know what it’s like to be autistic. I really wanted to cast a kid that was actually on the spectrum.” (Production found Jesus through autism blogs.) He went on to say, “ Jesus looked the right amount like Andres (who played his mother) and he’s a very patient and hard-working kid.”

On being inspired by the real-life story of a 13-year-old autistic boy who rode the subway for three days last year, and learning that the situation is not unique:

“That introduced me to the phenomenon they call ‘eloping.’ Something like half of all autistic kids run away at some point. Specifically in New York, they are often attracted to the subway system.”

To see the full WSJ article, click here.

And to see more info on the film, check out

Lynsey, Community Manager

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