Sundance Now to Exclusively Release Acclaimed Documentary 'Off the Rails' in the U.S. and Canada
Photo Credit: Darius McCollum
Film

Sundance Now to Exclusively Release Acclaimed Documentary 'Off the Rails' in the U.S. and Canada

OFF THE RAILS
OFF THE RAILS

Wrapping up a successful film festival circuit run, where it picked up multiple awards, the Gemini Pictures and Zipper Brothers Films documentary “Off the Rails,” directed by Adam Irving, has been picked up by Sundance Now, the streaming service backed by AMC Networks that offers members a curated selection of award-winning independent film, documentaries, and TV series.

Sundance Now will exclusively release the celebrated documentary for Sundance Now members in the U.S. and Canada starting Thursday, December 8th.





“Off the Rails” tells McCollum’s remarkable true story – a man with Asperger’s syndrome, whose overwhelming love of transit has landed him in jail 32 times for impersonating New York City transit workers.

The short version of the story goes like this… 50-year-old McCollum has long loved impersonating New York transit staff, stealing buses and trains, and then driving them away. It’s something he’s been doing since he was a teenager. Once he stole a bus at Penn Station and drove it, full of passengers, to New York’s Kennedy airport. Another time he responded to an emergency stop call on the subway at 57th street in Manhattan; clearing passengers safely and correctly and diagnosing the problem, in full uniform, before being caught by the train driver, who had seen his face on a wanted poster.

His actions have made him something of a folk hero here in NYC. But he has spent a chunk of his young life in jail, thanks to this apparent hobby of his, although that hasn’t stopped him.

He’s been arrested at least 30 times in 35 years.

“I feel I just need to be there even if it’s just for a little while,” McCollum told the Wall Street Journal in 2013 about the transit network. “And then, the more I’m there, the more I want to get involved.”

McCollum has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (an autism disorder), as well as depression and anxiety stemming from a childhood school attack, but only recently have courts begun to take his illnesses into account when hearing cases of his many arrests. And while McCollum has often agreed to seek therapy, he always ends up back on the rails or behind the wheel of a bus, and, inevitably, back in front of a judge and then in jail.

In the proposed feature film based on McCollum’s story, which will be titled “Train Man,” with Julia Roberts playing his attorney (in what is said to be a courtroom drama), McCollum’s past will be visited via flashbacks, starting at age 15, when his fascination with the transit system began.

Simon Stephenson is penning the script which will reportedly offer a “meaty role” for Roberts – one that could put her in Oscar contention (something along the lines of her Oscar-winning performance “Erin Brockovich”).

An actor has yet to be cast to play McCollum, and no director is attached yet.

The MTA says that it will try to recoup any money made by McCollum from the feature film. The agency previously announced it plans to pursue funds under the state’s “Son of Sam law” which restricts a criminal’s ability to profit off crimes, calling any money made “ill-gotten gains.” They have asked the film’s producers to notify New York State’s Office of Victim Services about the details of their financial arrangement with Mr. McCollum.

In response, his attorney Ms. Butler called the MTA’s actions “outrageous” adding that there is no deal currently in place between McCollum and the film’s producers. “It’s not going to be such a significant amount that the M.T.A. would want to waste money on the team of lawyers they would need to pursue this,” she said. “They will take it over my dead body,” she promised, adding that what he needs is mental health treatment, not punishment.

Meanwhile, after stops at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the Riverrun Film Festival, and others, Irving’s documentary “Off the Rails” – which received an awards season qualifying run, via distributor The Film Collaborative, opening in Los Angeles at Laemmle Music Hall, November 4 to 10; and in New York City at the Metrograph Theatre, November 18 to 24 – will be released exclusively by Sundance Now on its streaming platform starting December 8.

“As a service that embodies the spirit of the Sundance brand, Sundance Now connects members to hand-picked exclusive programming that is fascinating, emotional, and noteworthy,” says George Schmalz, Curator, Sundance Now. “’Off the Rails’ is an award-winning film that embodies those elements, and Sundance Now members will be the first among the public to see this film.”

“I’m thrilled ‘Off the Rails’ will be joining Sundance Now’s lineup of thought provoking films,” says Adam Irving, Director of the doc. “Their embrace of quality nonfiction signals we’re in a documentary golden age.”

The film will be available to Sundance Now members on Thursday, December 8, 2016. To become a member of Sundance Now, sign up online at sundancenow.com for a 7-day free trial then pay $6.99/month or $59.99/annual membership fee. Sundance Now is accessible via web, iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast.

For more, visit its official Website: offtherailsmovie.com; or follow on social media: facebook.com/OffTheRailsDoc twitter.com/offtherailsdoc.

Check out a trailer and poster for the film below.




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