I am not sure how much power a film has to have to not be slotted into the “Ethnic Film” genre, which restricts the market of its distribution. I am sure that the Bratt Brother’s LA MISSION (2009) has more than enough power to properly title its theme and genre. Written and directed by Peter Bratt, LA MISSION is about transitions from violence to an agent of Peace. Starring Ben Bratt, (co-producer) the main character embodies the film’s subtitle quote of a Spanish expression, “from the thorn emerges the flower.”
Peace in the world of bioethics is a universal “good,” and as such can only be held by the humanity as a whole -- not the individual. LA MISSION is about corralling passionate spirit and channeling it toward Peace. This film is not only about a Latino family, a black woman, low riders, gay teenagers, gentrification, gang bangers, medicine men, indigenous peoples, parents struggling to do what is best for their children, women who are victims of violence, city bus drivers , healthcare systems or healthier lifestyles; though it stars all of these.
The Bratt brothers are part of some exceptional company in the Latino Ethnic film genre - LA FAMILIA, LA MISMA LUNA, PAN’S LABYRINTH and THE SEA INSIDE, to name a few. But they have also created a cross cultural-cross genre film. Like other brilliant Latino, and black film productions. LA MISSION is not yet marketed broadly, so its universality is stealth. It’s hard to get a film like LA MISSION made, harder to get it promoted. Its audience is limited by an R rating; a bias against content tamer than the DVD’s being watched on most highschoolers hand held devices at lunchtime.
LA MISSION’s script is seamless down to the meaning of the posters on the walls of the lead character’s garage. It makes a strong argument for the writer-director hyphenate. The visuals are stunning, as would be expected from Japanese-American cinematographer Hiro Narita, set in the hues of San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood. The acting is gripping at every level also not unexpected from Benjamin Bratt but the rest of the cast pushes even his bar. Finally, this film is hot! It has all of the essentials of the best Hollywood drama. However, La Mission also goes to the head of the line for films important in clinical ethics. It looks at cross-cultural concerns in health promotion, violence prevention, and grief mediation.
In the case of LA MISSION I suggest we take a page from other parts of the struggle for Peace; we create a movement to pass the word. Assign it if you teach. Demand it in your local theater. If it is playing near you and you have 10 bucks to spare, see this movie. Defy the attempt of last century film marketing and critics to dice and slice our humanity. Pass the word -- the Peace film genre has arrived and its prototype is LA MISSION.
LA MISSION. 35 mm. Directed by Peter Bratt. USA. Screen Media Ventures. 2010 (117 min)