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The Independent Critic

Andrea Suarez Paz, Jesus Sanchez-Velez, Azul Zorrilla, Tenoch Huerta, and Marsha Stephanie Blake
Sam Fleischner
Rose Lichter-Marck (Story, Screenplay), Micah Bloomberg (Screenplay)
102 Mins.
Oscilloscope Laboratories

 "Stand Clear of the Closing Doors" Plays 2013 Heartland Film Festival 

An official selection of the 2013 Heartland Film Festival, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors was picked up by indie distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories for a USA limited theatrical release and should do well with those who appreciate small, indie dramas about intimate human experiences.

The story centers around Ricky (Jesus Sanchez-Velez), a 13-year-old with autism living with his mother, Mariana (Andrea Suarez Paz), an undocumented Mexican immigrant who works long days as a housekeeper while holding her family together. The family also includes Carla (Azul Zorrilla), her daughter, and Ricardo Sr. (Tenoch Huerta), a semi-absent father. One day, the rebellious Carla doesn't pick up Ricky from school and Ricky, despite being scolded by his mother on his cell phone, begins to wander. When a mysterious dragon-like figure catches his attention, Ricky is drawn into the world of the Rockaway Beach subway where he is both overwhelmed and drawn in. Mariana, on the other hand, begins herself to have new life experiences as days go by with no sign of Ricky and a hurricane forecast to be arriving soon.

Directed by Sam Fleischner, who won Best Director at the Athens International Film Festival for his work here, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is a compelling and visually inspiring film that emphasizes atmosphere and connection and the ways in which we are connected to our worlds and to each other. The film also captured a Special Jury Prize at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, a film festival that seems like the absolutely perfect setting for a film that gives equal emphasis to its New York roots, examination of the immigrant experience, and the often unspoken experiences that can so easily occur in a world where intimacy is often forsaken in favor of isolation.

The cast is mostly comprised of non-professional actors, a fact that seems to give the film an air of authenticity and a naturalness that fits beautifully with Adam Jandrup and Ethan Palmer's excellent lensing and Sarah Lipstate atmospheric original music. Fleischner's definitely got a gift for capturing little moments within big stories without compromising the bigger picture, and Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is a film that stays with you in mood and spirit long after the closing credits have rolled on by.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic