Article Title:Film night presents LA Mission
Author or Credit:Christopher Banks
Published on:20th March 2011 - 12:44 pm
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Story ID:10031
Text:We've all locked horns with our dads from time to time. For gay men, that relationship is often trickier. This month at Galatos, Number 8 Films is proud to present the NZ premiere of LA MISSION, a San Francisco drama starring Benjamin Bratt, which takes a sensitive yet visceral look at the father/son relationship. Jes (Jeremy Ray Valdez) is a young gay man growing up in the Latino Mission district of San Francisco, where traditional values about religion and what it means to be a man are paramount. He's a car lover, just like his dad, Che (Benjamin Bratt), a proud working-class bus driver and ex-con. But like many of us at a young age, Jes is living a secret life – he's heading over to the adjacent gay Castro district at weekends to party, and he has a boyfriend: a rich, white one. And when Dad finds out, let's just say things aren't going to be pretty. Initially. LA MISSION is directed by Benjamin Bratt's brother, Peter. Both grew up in the Mission district, and felt there was a different story to be told about the city they grew up in. “Before I began La Mission,” Peter Bratt says in the film's production notes, “the consuming thought on my mind was the presence of violence in our daily lives and our almost unconscious acceptance of it. “I was drawn to the idea of transformation, and the pain that often goes with it. What will it take on our part, each one of us, to affect real and lasting change? After all, it's not easy to change, even when we know it's for our own good. La Mission's main character was the perfect vehicle for me to explore this idea.” Che is based on a real person Peter knew growing up, even down to the character's name. “Che was a few years older than Benjamin and me, and everyone looked up to him, including us. Heʼs very much like Benjaminʼs character in the film,” he says. “Heʼs charming and tough, did some time, works for Muni [San Francisco's public transport company], and his body is covered with tattoos that reflect his strong Mexican American pride. Just like the fictional Che, the real-life Che was uncomfortable about the film's subject matter. “I remember him asking, ʻWhy does the son have to be a fag? Canʼt he be a drug dealer or something?ʼ He eventually gave me his blessing to use him as my template, but it took some convincing. Even then, however, he was uncomfortable with the idea of being associated with anything ʻgay.ʼ” Everything changed at the film's premiere. “He stood up at the end while the credits were still rolling and walked out of the theater without a word. I thought, ʻUh oh, I really pissed him off.ʼ He finally called me about an hour later and was very emotional – he had left the theater because he didnʼt want people to see him crying. Since then, heʼs brought his family, his mom, and many friends to see the film, and he still gets emotional about it. “What started out for him as something potentially uncomfortable is now something heʼs very proud of. He admits that the process has changed how he sees the ʻgay issue,ʼ and to his credit has even offered to be an advocate for the film when we release it. If you knew Che and the heavy circles he moves in, you would know this is a courageous offering on his part, and it makes me respect him all the more.” That powerful transformation is reflect on screen in this multi-award winning film, which plays at Galatos on Thursday March 24. Tickets are $20 online from, with sales on the door priced at $25. Doors open at 6:30pm, with the film starting at 7pm. Christopher Banks - 20th March 2011    
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