“La Mission” at the American Indian Film Festival

“La Mission” will play at the 34th Annual American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco on Saturday, November 7, 2009, at Landmark Embarcadero Center Cinema.

For further details and to buy tickets, please see


I take the occasion to share an interview with Benjamin, published on Frontiers in L.A. shortly before “La Mission”was shown at the Outfest 2009.


Benjamin Bratt discusses his role in the opening night film La Mission.

by Lawrence Ferber

In La Mission, a Latino ex-con living in San Francisco’s Mission district, Che Rivera (Benjamin Bratt), discovers his beloved teenage son, Jesse (Jeremy Ray Valdez), is gay and has a boyfriend, which causes a shattering conflict between the two. Written and directed by Bratt’s brother, Peter, La Mission premiered to standing (and teary-eyed) ovations at January’s Sundance Film Festival. Benjamin, who also served as producer, discusses the film.

FRONTIERS IN L.A.: Che represents such a dichotomy—a warm, good person, yet hardwired to react with violence and fury towards his son’s homosexuality.

BENJAMIN BRATT: It would be all too easy to demonize Che. Peter wanted to illuminate both characters’ journeys. Jesse probably has the more difficult journey, which is in the face of fear, potential rejection, violence and even death, to reveal who he is to the person he loves the most, with the likelihood of losing that relationship. On the other side of the coin you have someone who has an equal fear of losing the person he cherishes the most. Che can’t help but see Jesse as a direct reflection of who he is as a man. And if he’s gay, which is feminine, he’s “less-than.” Calling someone a faggot or bitch is to feminize them. That speaks to misogyny. That’s the lesser of the species. But that’s how most men are socialized. Doesn’t matter if you grew up in the Mission or Des Moines.

You and Peter grew up in and around the Mission district, and employed a lot of locals for the film’s production. Did anyone involved share Che’s disgust regarding the gay aspect?

There was an incident when we were shooting the scene outside the house and Jesse was getting a beat down [from Che]. Some homies pulled up and asked, “Why is he getting the beating?” We didn’t hide the storyline from anyone, in fact we encouraged people to understand what it was about, and when they discovered why he was receiving the beating in the context of the story [their reaction] was, “good, shit, he deserves it.” But the community could not have been more supportive.

Frontiers in L.A., Volume 28, Issue 5

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