Six theaters in less than 12 hours
Benjamin and Peter Bratt were on a mission Saturday: They visited six Houston theaters in a half-a-day on a whirlwind tour to promote their movie,La Mission. They didn't do press interviews but instead showed up to answer questions from the audience at theaters in Willowbrook, Deerbrook, First Colony, Gulf Point, west Houston and downtown to spur word-of-mouth about their labor of love. Benjamin produced the movie and stars in it while older brother Peter wrote, directed and produced it.
Their second-to-the-last stop brought them and their fellow producer, Alpita Patel, to the Angelika Theater just as the movie ended at 10 p.m.
In the film, Benjamin Bratt plays Che Rivera, an ex-con and respected resident of San Francisco’s Mission District. A strong man and good father, Che discovers early in the story that his college-bound son, Jes, is gay. That discovery drastically changes their relationship and both men struggle to refit themselves into their family, community and culture.
It seemed as if no one had bothered to show either Bratt brother a map of Houston before they committed to their schedule because they both looked a little overwhelmed and kept repeating what a long day it had been. However, the large audience for the 8 p.m. showing definitely pleased the brothers. Benjamin said the numbers “energized” him and he danced a little jig to illustrate that new energy level.
The Angelika audience did Houston proud, as the thoughtful film evoked thoughtful questions. When asked what influenced the story, Peter explained that he is particularly interested in how many times contemporary films give the audience heroes who solve conflicts with violence. In La Mission, he wrote a central character, prone to violence, who finds himself in a “conflict he can’t punch his way out of.” The older Bratt also touched on the difficult issue of California’s minority communities’ high support for Proposition 8 in the 2008 election.
Not all the questions and responses were as serious. When asked what it’s like being directed by his older brother, Benjamin described their relationship as best friends and working together as “playtime.” Asked if they were enjoying Houston food, the audience learned that no trek to six theaters would be possible without refueling at Pappasitos.
The brothers Bratt were also asked if their trip and our large Hispanic communities might interest them in filming in Houston. Peter claimed they were already pitching some ideas. If he ever wants to move away from powerful, character-driven drama, may we suggest a comedy. Two hot brothers, locked into a mad-cap movie promotion scheme, are forced to criss-cross Houston in one evening, with only Pappasito’s combo plates to keep them going.
Just a scene where they attempt to find their car in the Bayou Place underground garage would be worth the price of admission.