For Benjamin and Peter Bratt, making the movie "La Mission" was about coming home. The brothers grew up in San Francisco, where the movie takes place.
"The Mission District was essentially our back yard and had such an emotional and political impact on how we see ourselves today," said Benjamin Bratt, who stars in the movie (Peter Bratt wrote and directed it). "It's a part of us."
The brothers will answer questions about the film after each of two screenings on Saturday at the State Theatre in Modesto.
Benjamin, known for his role as Detective Rey Curtis in "Law and Order," plays Che, a Latino father in the Mission District who is distressed to learn that his son is gay.
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"He's very old-school, incredibly rigid in his sensibilities in the way he navigates through life," Benjamin said. "He's a man of violence, and that's worked for him. When he encounters his son's sexual orientation and reacts in a typical way, that no longer works for him."
The character is based on a real guy named Che whom the Bratts know. He was born and raised in the Mission and is similar in every way except that he doesn't have a gay son.
He was worried at first about that and asked Peter if the son could be a drug dealer or murderer instead.
"It's an honest and real concern for people in the community," Benjamin said.
But after he saw the movie, he was proud of it and the message of the film. He ended up bringing 35 family members to a screening.
Peter said his goal in writing the film was to examine how a violent character acts when he is put in a corner and can't force his way out in a typical fashion.
"It's more a spiritual journey for the character than it is for an external force," he said.
The brothers had a hard time making the film because Hollywood didn't want to fund it. All the money came from San Francisco Bay Area investors and the movie was independently released.
When they shopped the film at festivals, people told them they didn't think it would have an audience. They said Latinos wouldn't come out for the film because of the gay content and predicted that only gays would like it.
In fact, the audiences around the country are 90 percent Latino, Peter said. He was touched that some Modesto Latinos campaigned for the movie and even posted a Facebook page asking for it to come to town.
The movie has almost no money for traditional advertising like billboards and TV commercials.
"It's amazing that word of mouth is so strong and that people are organizing to bring it to their cities," Peter said.
The movie got some support early on from guitarist Carlos Santana, who loved the film. He told George Lopez about it, who then talked about it on his TBS show. "Lopez Tonight."
Benjamin, who lives in L.A., said he and his brother are excited to come to Modesto and are glad there will be Aztec dancers and a low-rider car show at the State Theatre to celebrate the film.
"We're really looking forward to conducting the Q&A with audience members and getting their opinion and reaction," he said.
Watch Bee Scene on video at videos.modbee.com.