Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, a film set in the Rockaways, will be at the Tribeca Film Festival

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Image source: Tumblr Storyboard

Tumblr’s Storyboard published an article on the film, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, a “story of a 13-year-old autistic boy played by Jesus Sanchez who gets lost on the subway for 10 days.” It’s based on a true story that was published in the NY Times in 2009. That experience took place in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, whereas the film takes place in the Rockaways.

The filmmaker, Sam Fleischner, is a Rockaways resident, too. He moved to NYC in 2006 and was a surfer, so he was naturally drawn to the Rockaways, which also may have had some influence on where he wanted to set the movie. There was a big chunk of filming that needed to be done on the subway, so in late October – right before Sandy hit – they kept filming in the A train, taking the what would end up being the last train out before the MTA shut the line down in anticipation of the hurricane. After they realized the severity of the situation, most of the crew and actors split.

Fleischner stayed behind because, of course, he is a Rockaway resident. Sandy disrupted life for everyone, as we know, and he felt distanced from the film. He said, “My head was no longer there at all. The movie just seemed so insignificant.” But his producer urged him to finish and as he looked at the footage, he realized he had some of the last images of the Rockaways before they were utterly changed by the storm. From the article:

“He’d recorded them literally in their last moments. He doesn’t say so, but upon that realization, an obligation to see the project through must have become apparent, the obligation of one in a unique position to preserve what no longer is.”

He ended up finishing the film and recently learned that Stand Clear of the Closing Doors will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 20.

Hurricane Sandy Empowers a Film It Almost Destroyed [Storyboard]