A new documentary chronicling the life of Darius McCollum, a man who has spent half of his life in jail for impersonating New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority workers, is coming to Toronto’s Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.
Filmmaker Adam Irving follows McCollum whose undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome led to a life-long obsession with buses and trains led to over 30 arrests for driving New York trains and commuter buses, collecting fares, repairing tracks, assisting passengers during service shut-downs, and going as far to fight for better working conditions and higher wages for a transit union he didn’t belong to.
“Off The Rails” digs into one man’s obsession while indicting a legal system that focuses on incarceration over treatment of a non-violent man with mental health issues. “With the entire criminal justice system lined up against him, Darius effectively chose to sacrifice his life to this obsession,” Irving says. “If there’s one thing that drew me to his story, that was it,” Irving says. “Is there anyone else who would give up 20 years in prison to do something that most people would find completely mundane? Driving a bus? Collecting a subway fare? It’s absurd and tragic.”
McCollum’s story has gained headlines and grabbed the attention of Hollywood with a fictional feature film in the works, according to Variety, with Julia Roberts set to play the role of McCollum’s lawyer.
The documentary premiered earlier this year at Toronto’s Hot Docs Festival and will open again in Toronto on October 7.