Big Read Shorts

Are You Still There

Big Read Shorts: A Film Series Inspired by The House on Mango Street (68m.)

Curated by, presented in partnership with Wichita Public Library and Fishtrap

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Password Protected  –  March 4-8, 2022

In partnership with the Wichita Public Library (Wichita, KS) and Fishtrap (Enterprise, OR), will celebrate the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read celebration and the selected novel The House on Mango Street. Audiences served by the three organizations will have the opportunity to partake in a virtual film series inspired by themes in the book. 

These films explore subjects – including identity & belonging, othering and the immigrant experience, generational divide, responsibility, gender, family, faith and home. Their main characters add depth and perspective to the story and life of Esperanza Cordero, the book’s protagonist. The people we meet in these stories are straddling communities and worlds, while their lived multicultural and intersectional experiences showcase the universality of these themes through the medium of the moving image.

Film Selections Include: El Carrito (Dir. Zahida Pirani), The Train Station (Dir. Lyana Patrick), Are You Still There? (Dir. Rayka Zehtabchi, Sam Davis), Her Dance (Rikud Hassidi) (Dir. Bar Cohen) and Mano Santa (Dir. Steph Camacho). 

Note: These films have not yet been rated.

Filmmaker Q&A moderated by film critic Carlos Aguilar

Originally from Mexico City, Carlos Aguilar was chosen as one of 6 young film critics to partake in the first Roger Ebert Fellowship organized by, the Sundance Institute and Indiewire in 2014. Aguilar’s work has appeared in prestigious publications such as Los Angeles Times, Variety, The New York Times, and The Atlantic. He is a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) and the National Society of Film Critics (NSFC). 

KMUW 89.1
Wichita Public Library


(15:20) USA, 2021, Language: Spanish

Dir. Zahida Pirani

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. She has learned not to trust anyone until one day she is forced to take a leap of faith or be resigned in her position forever.

Zahida Pirani is an award-winning filmmaker based in Los Angeles and New York City, with a background in community organizing. A recipient of the 2021 Princess Grace Award, her short film El Carrito is an official selection of AFI FEST 2021 and SXSW 2022. She is currently earning an MFA in Film Directing at UCLA.


(2:00) Canada, 2020, Language: English

Dir. Lyana Patrick

In this beautifully animated documentary short, filmmaker Lyana Patrick narrates her family’s powerful story of love and survival at Lejac Indian Residential School.

Lyana Patrick, Director, The Train Station

Lyana Patrick is a member of the Stellat’en First Nation (Carrier Nation) on her father’s side and Acadian/Scottish on her mother’s side. She has worked in communications and education for 17 years, including as a journalist, communications officer, and documentary filmmaker. She holds a PhD from the University of British Columbia and is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.


(15m), USA, 2021, Language: English, Arabic
(contains minor profanity)

Dir. Rayka Zehtabchi, Sam Davis

A dead car battery leaves Safa stranded alone in a strip mall parking lot.

Rayka Zehtabchi is a director and producer working in both documentary and fiction. In 2019, she became the first Iranian woman to win an Oscar for her Netflix film Period. End of Sentence. She brings a naturalistic approach to her storytelling, striving for honesty and intimacy on screen.

Sam Davis is an LA-based filmmaker with a foundation in cinematography. His photography has screened at world-class film festivals including Sundance, SXSW and Tribeca, and on major streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu. Sam is best-known for his work on the 2019 Academy Award-winning documentary short “Period. End of Sentence.”


(22m), Israel, 2020, Language: Hebrew
Dir. Bar Cohen

After not being invited to her sister’s wedding, Aya, a transwoman, shows up by surprise on a Shabbat night at the Orthodox Jewish community where her family lives.

Bar Cohen, Director, Her Dance

Bar Cohen is an Israeli director and screenwriter. She studies at the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television in Tel Aviv under the mentorship of the famous director, Maya Dreifuss. Cohen made the short film “Her Dance” as part of her 2nd-year studies, to tell about the hardships that transgender people face in Jewish communities. It is based on the director’s own experience as a transgender person. The film turned out to be a success and was named the Best Student International Short Film at the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival 2022. The winning films in this category are automatically shortlisted for the Academy Awards. Since then, Cohen has written and directed two more short films, and these days she is writing a TV series in Israel.


(13:36) Puerto Rico, 2020, Language: Spanish
(contains minor profanity)
Dir. Steph Camacho

Don Isidoro, better known as “Mano santa”(the healer) in his hometown, shelters his grandson after he ran away from his home.

Stephanie Camacho, Director, Mano Santo

Steph Camacho (they/them), filmmaker and photographer from Puerto Rico. Camacho completed their B.A in Cinematography with a concentration in Graphic Design from Atlantic University College in Puerto Rico. Steph is known for writing and directing the multi-award winning LGBTQ+ short SAM (2017). In 2020, their second queer short film “Mano santa” was awarded over 10 prizes at the Festival de Cine Europeo in Puerto Rico and was an official selection at AFI Fest 2021. Their filmography includes other works such as: Nihilo (2022), Leonel (2021), Masking (2019), Papo Amor (2019) y Aborto Libre Puerto Rico (2018).