Everyday Activist - Off The Rails (CUFF.Docs 2016)

Posted on Friday, November 18, 2016 at 08:30 AM

Off The Rails (CUFF.Docs 2016)

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

Off the Rails fought hard for my affection, but because Accidental Courtesy had such a positive message it ended up winning. Nevertheless, I’m glad the director, Adam Irving, had the courage to make such a provocative, debut film examining how we treat people with mental illness. Some of the things that happened to Darius McCollum have to be true, because you simply can’t make that stuff up. I was left speechless that someone could have that much trouble with Asperger’s Syndrome and the law and yet not turn into a hardened man.

Darius McCollum has had his share of joys, frustration and jail time; lots of jail time. What was his crime? Driving subway trains and metro buses without permission earned him 32 stints in the slammer. The documentary points out that it costs taxpayers $60 K a year to keep someone in jail. That would buy someone a lot of therapy over the course of a lifetime, something Darius badly needed as a child. After watching his childhood story, I understood why he did the things he did. From a therapist view, city transit was his way of coping with the stress of the world. Some people use drugs, alcohol, food or sex, but Darius liked transit.

The interesting thing was that he didn’t just steal the buses to joyride. He would courteously drop the passengers off at their stops, make announcements and convince people that he was part of the team. He even went to a rally to picket with the transit workers when they went on strike for better wages for a union he didn’t work for. During one stint in jail, the government asked him to point out all the weak points in the transit system in New York City. After doing his good deed, rather than getting paid or recognized for his contribution, he was put into solitary confinement to keep terrorists from accessing his knowledge. Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up.

Before anyone treats people with mental health issues they need to watch a short film called Not Without Us. This film points out that people with mental illness want community, jobs, independent living and then treatment. Darius hung out at the transit stations because it gave him a sense of community. Had he been able to get a job there, he might never have experienced the problems he did and lived independently rather than being a drain to the system. For one reason or another, luck wasn’t on his side. He continues to struggle because these basic things that many of us take for granted simply aren’t there for him. What’s really sad is that Mental Health Peer Connection featured in the short film posted above, isn’t that far away for him in Buffalo NY.

Off The Rails will play at the Globe Cinema on Sunday November 20th, 2016 at 2:30 pm as part of the CUFF.Docs 2016 documentary series. 

Calgary Showtimes: CUFF.Docs 2016 > | Off The Rails >


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