Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is the story of Ricky, a 13-year-old boy with autism, and his mother, Mariana. An undocumented immigrant from Mexico, Mariana works long days cleaning houses while Ricky, deeply imaginative but painfully isolated, struggles to cope. They live in Rockaway Beach, Queens along with Ricky’s rebellious older sister, Carla, and semi-absent father, Ricardo Sr.
Carla doesn’t pick Ricky up from school one day and as he walks home alone, he is scolded by Mariana over the phone. Blocking out his mother’s wrath, he is swooned by a mysterious dragon figure into the subway. This marks the beginning of the young boy’s odyssey of self-discovery, where his confrontation with the bizarre, indifferent world of the subway pushes him to interact with the world. Mariana’s search brings her out into her neighborhood in new ways. She forms a new relationship with the beach and befriends a shopkeeper who knows her son. As days pass with no sign of Ricky and an impending hurricane, the divisions that the family has tried to ignore are brought to light.
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is a family drama rooted in the vibrant depiction of a seldom-seen community on the city’s edge. With an eye-opening view of life on the autism spectrum, the film simultaneously explores the strains of the immigrant experience. The film is about identity and conformity; communication and intolerance. It explores the dark spaces between us, seeking out the peculiar threads that tie us together.