El Carrito @ Nashville Film Festival

Films can bring us into places and the lives of people we don’t usually get to see or experience. Allow us to travel without moving or gain insight without meeting. All of us who have been to New York City have either sampled or are aware of the multitude of food vendors on the streets. All kinds of foods from nuts to hot dogs to sausages and plenty of ethnic food types. In director Zahida Pirani’s short film in a mere 15 minutes she introduces us to what many food vendors go through on a daily basis.

We learn that many of those working selling food on the streets of the Big Apple are immigrants. They work super hard under terrible conditions just to remain in the country and pursue the American Dream. One of those is Nelly (Eli Zavala – Still the Earth Moves), who sells tamales in Queens out of her small cart. Working all day and evening long just trying to make enough money to support her and her elderly father (Jose Febus – appeared in episodes of Law & Order and Manifest). Nothing comes easy to her, as she even has to fight over vendors for a spot on a good corner. Then she has to go home to make sure her father eats and takes his meds. Long days with not much of a reward.

Seeing she is not getting ahead this way, Nelly decides to take a risk. She goes to a man to buy a new cart she can work with. It is more than she wants to spend but will make her life so much easier, so she uses all of her savings to buy it. On the first day she owns it, after leaving it unattended for just a few minutes, the cart is stolen. Nelly is furious. All her savings are gone and now the cart is too. Her faith in humans is gone…or is it?

White people for centuries have not acknowledged or faced the fact that from birth they have an advantage in life. Especially in countries like the U.S. and Canada. We do not know the isolation and “otherness” that come with being an immigrant. How hard it is to find work. A job that is not back-breaking. Films like El Carrito are important as they provide a small sense of understanding of what the lives of people coming to the country are like. How they quickly learn that no one is to be trusted; that they can only rely on themselves. Here is a wonderful film that captures that life and what it must be like on a daily basis for many.

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