Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is the story of Ricky, a 13-year-old Mexican- American boy with Autism, and his mother, Catalina, a Mexican immigrant who works long days cleaning houses to support her family. Ricky is deeply imaginative and loves to draw, funneling his unique inner world into reams of fantastical drawings.
Ricky and his mother live in a high-rise housing project on Rockaway Beach, Queens along with Ricky’s father, the over-worked Ricardo Sr. and Ricky’s strident older sister, Carla. Every day is a tense struggle to maintain order in the face of Ricky’s difficulties and the family’s tenuous economic situation.
One day in late October, after Catalina yells at Ricky for skipping school, he panics and escapes into the NYC subway system where he loses track of space, time, and himself. As his family frantically searches for him, Ricky embarks on an odyssey of self discovery, observing scenes of urban pathos and oddity while his body weakens from hunger. As Catalina mounts a dogged manhunt for him, their stories intertwine becoming a dual narrative. The primal reaction to losing her son enables her to open up to the world and repair her relationship with her husband and daughter.
When Ricky does not come home, the first place his mother thinks to look for him is on the beach, where he likes to watch the planes flying in and out of JFK. As she returns to the shore every day in hopes of finding him there, she forms a new relationship with the ocean and with her community. Through their parallel discoveries, the characters gain wisdom from these environments: Ricky within the labyrinth of the subway and his mother from the vast ocean. Slowly she reconciles her expectations for her son with the reality of his abilities.
Intercutting between their journeys, the movie hurtles towards a fantastical climax on Halloween, followed by a moving reunion. Based on real events, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors is the story of a boy who is different, and his quest to assimilate into a world that doesn’t understand him. It is a story about community, family, faith, togetherness and the undeniable human desire to reach across the daunting chasms that divide us -to connect.