Bay Co. Student Stars in Independent Film - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Bay Co. Student Stars in Independent Film

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An independent film brings to life the story of a 13 year-old autistic boy growing up in New York. "Stand Clear of the Closing Doors" is currently screening at the Tribeca Film Festival. The character of Ricky is brought to life by a Panhandle native, Jesus Sanchez.

"It's pretty cool to be playing as this character because there were certain parts that were very fun to be acting in...It was just pretty interesting. When I saw it on the screen, I was just interested," says Sanchez.

In the movie, Ricky's sister doesn't pick him up from school, forcing the 13 year-old to walk home alone. After being rep remanded by his mother, Ricky wonders into the New York Subway System where he gets lost for days.

In real life, Sanchez says he has more similarities with his character than differences.

"Him having Autism and me having Aspergers Syndrome, which is a piece of autism, I could relate that way. Also, when I was a little kid, I used to be a lot like him," says Sanchez.

However, it's not just Sanchez who can relate to this family drama. Sanchez's mom Liana Velez says she sees her self in Ricky's mother, Mariana.

There were times before in my life as he was growing that I was kind of in denial," says Velez. "I knew he had conditions, but I was not all the way there. I was just basically meeting days end, surviving as we speak. And I do see that a lot in the Mariana character, the mom."

Velez says she hopes this movie will bring awareness to those who are not familiar with the Autism Spectrum.

"I do hope that through this movie people are able to see what families who have kids in the spectrum deal with on a day to day basis," says Velez.

For Sanchez, he denies any sort of fame, for now.

"It's my first ever movie. Not that many people know me. In school, I really just have a few friends. That's the why I say no because I'm not that important. I'm just like everybody else," says Sanchez.

Velez says the film won best film at the festival.