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A Short Film by Zahida Pirani
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Nelly lives alone with her elderly father. The only way she makes ends meet is by working as a street vendor from dawn to dusk. Nelly has learned not to trust anyone until one day she is forced to take a leap of faith or be resigned to her position forever.

Director's Bio


Zahida Pirani is a writer/director based in Los Angeles and New York City. Her short film, EL CARRITO, was an official selection of SXSW, AFI FEST and has won awards at Academy qualifying festivals including Palm Springs ShortFest and Seattle
International Film Festival. Zahida previously directed and produced the award-winning short documentary JUDITH: PORTRAIT OF A STREET VENDOR which premiered at the Queens Museum in New York. Before becoming a filmmaker, Zahida worked as a community organizer and was the director of a grassroots nonprofit organization in New York. She was the recipient of the 2021 Princess Grace Award in Film.





Seattle International Film Festival

Palm Springs ShortFest

Edinburgh International Film Festival 

Cleveland International Film Festival

Hamptons International Film Festival

Denver Film Festival

Nashville Film Festival

Brooklyn Film Festival

Woodstock Film Festival

BendFilm Festival

Catalina Film Festival

Indy Shorts International Film Festival

HollyShorts Film Festival

Heartland International Film Festival

Rooftop Films Summer Series

Tallgrass Film Festival

Dances With Films

Ojai Film Festival

Los Angeles Latino Film Festival

New York Latino Film Festival

Coronado Island Film Festival

Cordillera International Film Festival

San Francisco Latino Film Festival

LA Femme International Film Festival

Pittsburgh Shorts Film Festival

Key West Film Festival

TIDE Film Festival

TAFIC Tapiales International Film Festival


Seattle International Film Festival | Special Jury Award 

Palm Springs ShortFest | Best U.S. Student Short Audience Award

Palm Springs ShortFest | Local Jury Award Honorable Mention

Brooklyn Film Festival | Best Narrative Short Audience Award

Woodstock Film Festival | Best Student Short

BendFilm Festival | Best Student Short 

Tallgrass Film Festival | Best Narrative Short 

Indy Shorts International Film Festival | Best Narrative Student Film 

Catalina Film Festival | Award of Excellence Advanced Student 

Ojai Film Festival | Best Student Film

Denver Film Festival | Liberty Global Best Student Domestic Short

TAFIC Tapiales International Film Festival | Best Foreign Short Film

Coronado Island Film Festival | Student Grand Prize Award


Director's Statement


In this film, I want to challenge the concept of the American Dream and provide an alternative narrative of the immigrant experience. Nelly’s isolated daily existence shows how unattainable the American Dream can be for people like her. It also influences her view that the world is a competitive, ruthless place where no one can be trusted. With the help of the other vendors, she discovers a new way of seeing the people and world around her. In the communities where I grew up, supporting one another was the only way one could thrive. While this film is about the struggles of an immigrant woman street vendor, it is also a more universal story about discovering human connection in what sometimes can feel like a harsh, dehumanizing world.


With this story, I also bring a real, complex woman of color character to the screen who is unapologetically flawed. Nelly is based on the many strong, low-income immigrant women I’ve known throughout my life. Like them, Nelly’s circumstances are difficult, but she is not a victim and instead exercises agency in her life. 


We shot this film in my neighborhood and the surrounding areas in Queens, New York which represent some of the most vibrant immigrant communities in the city. It was important to me to include local community members in the making of this film. We partnered with street vendors who worked as creative consultants both in pre-production and production. The film is shot entirely on location thanks to residents who welcomed us into their homes and businesses. Half of the crew and many of the non-professional actors came from the local neighborhoods. Part of my intention for this film was to bring viewers into a world they wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to experience and to capture the spirit of my community on screen.   

El Carrito Capture 2.tiff


Sales Agent
Martina Fiorellino | Premium Films

Writer / Director
Zahida Pirani
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