La Mission is a family affair: it’s the second feature film by director Peter Bratt, and stars his brother, Benjamin Bratt. It opened the 52nd annual San Francisco International Film Festival at the Castro Theatre last night to a full house.

I admit that my main motivation for seeing the movie was because it takes place in my neighborhood–the Mission District. The problem with San Francisco based movies is they rarely capture the overlap of communities that make up this freaky city by the Bay. The movies are usually too gay, too hipster, too Asian, too society, too whatever. They often miss the fact that the lovely thing about SF is the preponderance of subcultures, and the fact that they do overlap. This isn’t the case with La Mission.

I have to admit the movie made me feel a little bit clueless about my own hood. I grew up in Southern California, where the homeboys would iron their white Hanes t-shirts, button up their wool Pendletons up to their necks (in 90 degree heat!) and go cruise Whittier Blvd on Saturday nights in their bouncing lowriders. I had no idea there was a lowrider culture here–apparently steps from my front door. Have you ever met people who live someplace incredibly diverse or with a distinctive subculture, who still manage to only know and hang out with people like themselves? How could I have missed this?*

The Bratt Brothers are local boys (Festival Director Graham Leggat noted that this year the festival features over 30 films and shorts from Bay Area filmmakers) and they actually capture the disparity in cultures that makes the city so vibrant. Both Peter and Benjamin were in attendance for the movie and the Q&A after the show. Benjamin is as lovely as ever. He plays a MUNI driver in the movie and as a testimonial to his mad acting skills, I totally bought it.

Peter Bratt talked about how 18th Street connects such different communities. I thought about that as I walked home and the stretch limo carrying (presumably) the Bratts to the after-party at Bruno’s passed me by.

*It’s not just me though. Did you know the athletics department at UC Berkeley calls a segment of their donors Bear Backers? Seriously? Being this close to San Francisco where bear(bare)-backing has a whole different meaning; didn’t one person at that meeting raise their hand and suggest rethinking that name? Why not just call yourselves the “Sports as an Outlet for Homoeroticism Club?”

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