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Man Push Cart / Chop Shop

A kid standing with his arms outstretched next to an auto mechanic shop.
July 17, 2022 - 7:00 pm
Q&A with filmmaker Ramin Bahrani.

Man Push Cart

U.S., 2005

In the wee hours of the Manhattan morning, Ahmad (Ahmad Rzavi) grinds out a living from a pushcart, serving coffee and croissants to the midtown business crowd. Writer-director Ramin Bahrani quickly establishes his Sisyphean existence, rolling the cart through the streets in darkness, rolling it back through rush hour traffic, repeat, before gradually pulling back from Ahmad’s labor to reveal the person struggling to get his life back on track. Bahrani’s post-9/11 immigrant story was critically acclaimed on its release and became a watershed film in the re-emergence of neorealism in American independent cinema.

Digital, color, 87 min. Director: Ramin Bahrani. Screenwriter: Ramin Bahrani. With: Ahmad Razvi, Leticia Dolera, Charles Daniel Sandoval.

Chop Shop

U.S., 2007

The Willets Point area of Queens, New York where auto body shops and scrapyards crowded together in an open-air industrial marketplace—later bulldozed in 2016 for new development—forms the whole of the world for Ale (Alejandro Polanco), a 12-year-old street kid already well-versed in the hustle. Luring customers into a repair shop—where the owner also lets him crash—Ale works to save money, along with his older sister, Isamar (Isamar Gonzales), for a food truck and, hopefully, a way out. Writer-director Ramin Bahrani surveys this almost post-apocalyptic milieu through Ale’s eyes, a child surviving at the cut throat fringe of late capitalism.

Digital, color, 84 min. Director: Ramin Bahrani. Screenwriter: Ramin Bahrani, Bahareh Azimi. With: Alejandro Polanco, Isamar Gonzales, Ahmad Razvi.