USA, 2009, 117 minutes
Thu, Apr 23 / 7:00 / Castro / OPEN film+party / OPENV VIP film+party
OPENING NIGHT Peter Brattís powerful and moving film is an ardent love letter to the vibrancy of San Franciscoís Mission District and an urgent corrective to the violence that plays out in its streets. Full of affection for its characters and despair for their situations, La Mission is a story of community and family and one manís struggle to unlearn a lifetime of destructive habits. Che, in a commanding performance by Benjamin Bratt, is an ex-con who has turned his life around and now devotes himself to his lifelong Mission Boyz friends, his passion for building classic lowrider cruisers and his honor student son, Jess (Jeremy Ray Valdez). On the eve of Jessís graduation, as Cheís new romance with an attractive neighbor (Erika Alexander) starts to bud, a sudden revelation shatters the peace, drawing a brutal reaction from Che. Lashing out at those around him, he finds himself emotionally broken and isolated, before beginning a hard climb toward understanding and acceptance. And it is a hard climb. Handsome, charismatic bad-ass though he may be, Che gets no slack from best friend Rene (Jesse Borrego) or his pals, all of whom are trying to live decent lives in difficult circumstances, and doing a better job of it. The filmís greatest virtue, and the crux of Cheís redemptive journey, is its refusal to accept violence as a necessary outcome of, far less a solution to, troubling conditions. Full of compassion and love, La Mission is not only tough but hopeful, beautiful and true.
West Coast Premiere.