‘Off the Rails,’ Story of A One-Track Mind

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From the time he was a young boy, Darius McCollum was fascinated by trains.  The trains were his hiding spot to get away from his troubles.  But when he took it upon himself to steal trains, he became infamous.

Off the Rails, a film by Adam Irving that tells Darius’ story, gets its United States theatrical run this November, qualifying it for Oscar consideration. It can be seen in Los Angeles at the Laemmie Music Hall, November 4 through 10, and in New York City at the Metrograph Theater, November 18 through 24.

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Darius McCollum, Off the Rails publicity photo.

McCollum, who is said to have Asperger’s Syndrome, has been in jail more than 30 times for taking trains and buses for joy rides (often with passengers unaware), trespassing, and impersonating various mass transit personnel. A panel of individuals with disabilities reviewed the film, making their own observations.

“I never saw someone who took so much pride in his job,” said reviewer Joseph Padalino. “He doesn’t hurt the passengers.  He calls out the stops with more enthusiasm than the real drivers. I wouldn’t even care about his disability. I would ride with him.”

“It makes you wonder how safe the train system is,” according to Anthony DiFato. “You have him in jail and there is no counseling. The criminal justice system is not fair.  It’s not like he killed someone.”

McCollum’s story is also being considered for a feature film, starring Julia Roberts as McCollum’s attorney, Sally Butler.  Meanwhile, Darius sits in jail since November 2015 for his latest escapade and is facing a possible 15-year sentence behind bars. A $15 million lawsuit has been filed by Butler on McCollum’s behave, citing the lack of mental health services that he has received thus far in prison.

-Written as a group, including Dolores Palermo, Joseph Jones, Anthony DiFato, Joseph Padalino, Anthony Kefalinos, Anthony Buscarello, Jonathan Chernock, Andre Fitzgerald, and others, edited by Edward Gregory and Kathryn Carse.

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