Release Date: 2/27/08
Starring: Alejandro Polanco, Isamar Gonzales, Rob Sowulski, Carlos Zapata, Ahmad Razvi
Directed By: Ramin Bahrani
Written By: Ramin Bahranid, Bahareh Azimi
CHOP SHOP is the story of Alejandro (Alejandro Polanco), a twelve-year-old Latino street orphan in Willet’s Point, also known as the “Iron Triangle,” a vibrant, sprawling, industrial neighborhood teeming with auto-body repair shops, scrap yards, and garbage dumps on the outskirts of Queens, New York. Alejandro, like numerous young boys in the area, works at one of the many auto body repair shops that line the street.
Alejandro spends his days in an adult world, running errands, convincing customers to come to his boss’s garage instead of a competitor’s, and learning how to paint and repair cars. Although conditions are harsh, his life is sprinkled with moments of happiness as he carves out a life for himself in the wasteland of the Iron Triangle. The brightest of these moments is the arrival of his sister Isamar (Isamar Gonzales), who moves in with him in the tiny room perched in the back of the shop where he works. Knowing that creating a better life for the two of them is their best bet at staying together, Alejandro finds her a job in a food van cooking and selling meals to the workers in the Iron Triangle. With a mixture of childlike naiveté and adult ambition, Alejandro begins obsessively saving his money to buy a mobilefood van as the two dream about owning and running a small business of their own.
When their dream, and ultimately their loving relationship, is threatened by the hard truths of life, work, and one another, the children find themselves forced to make the kinds of difficult decisions that most adults never have to.